2.5% tax hike recommended as budget talks begin

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Chatham-Kent-Logoweb

Administration is recommending a 2.5% take hike, as the 2014 draft budget process begins.

Don Shropshire, chief administrative officer of the municipality, said staff is recommending 0.1% less than the tax impact requested by council.

We will come out with a 1.2% increase,” he said, which does not include money for infrastructure lifecycle projects.

Gerry Wolting, general manager of corporate services, said a 2.5% tax hike is recommended with infrastructure included.

We’re in better shape this year than last year,” he said.

Wolting said Chatham-Kent is always faced with challenges, yet still has average tax burdens with above-average service cost.

He said a substantial OMPF grant, “huge amount of contracted out work,” a user fee approach and carefully prepared base budgets are ways C-K can remain competitive.

Wolting added C-K is getting $633,000 less in revenues from the federal gas tax program due to a declining population.

Our population issue is costing us $633,000,” he said.

Wolting said a decision has to be made by council on how to handle the bridge issue in the community, where 44 bridges are in need of repair or divestment,

Thomas Kelly, general manager of infrastructure, said a long-term plan is preferred.

The challenge I have is working one year at a time,” he said. “We were told we couldn’t commit future councils … yet we did that with the hospice.”

South Kent Coun. Art Stirling, budget chair, said he is impressed with the work by staff.

Each year I witness how much effort and energy and commitment goes into the construction of the budget document,” he said. “We joke sometimes about the size of the binders … the size of the workload is much greater.”

Stirling said it is a very responsible draft budget.

It comes in below the target that council set back in September,” he said. “It starts our deliberations in a much more favourable position than past years. This is the first year we will note the impact of the service review. It takes out the emotional hot button issues that takes the community by surprise.”

Public meetings are scheduled for next week: Jan. 21, at the Kinsmen Club in Wallaceburg, Jan. 22 at Blenheim District High School and Jan. 23 at the Active Lifestyle Centre in Chatham. Each meeting runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Budget deliberations are scheduled for Jan. 27, 28, 29, and 30 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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