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Flowery Branch unleashed? Tax allocation district could revamp city

POSTED: December 17, 2007 5:02 a.m.

Flowery Branch City Council approved the creation of its first tax allocation district Wednesday morning with a 4-1 vote.

The City Council adopted the plan to establish the 567-acre district, which encompasses the majority of the area between the historic area on Main Street and the underdeveloped commercial corridors near Interstate 985. The district includes portions of Thurmon Tanner Parkway, Atlanta Highway, Phil Niekro Boulevard and Spout Springs Road.

The City Council will act as the agency implementing the redevelopment plan to be funded by the projected $11.2 million property tax increment generated from the district over the next 25 to 30 years.

The plan aims primarily to double the city’s sewer capacity to 2 million gallons, and to establish a thriving downtown area with retail, dining and possibly residential establishments. Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew said roughly $8 million of the district’s funds could be used to finance a portion of the sewer expansion.

"I think it’s an extremely positive move for the city," Flowery Branch Mayor Diane Hirling said. "There are no negatives for a TAD that I can see. ... It will benefit all Flowery Branch residents, and obviously they wanted it."

City voters approved the tax allocation district referendum on Sept. 18.

Although Councilwoman Jan Smith voted against the district, she said she supports the idea. But she doesn’t favor a time period of 25 years or more. Smith also stated in an e-mail that she would have preferred to expand sewer service to more residents living within Flowery Branch city limits.

The Flowery Branch City Council and staff have worked closely with Gary Mongeon, vice president of the Bleakly Advisory Group, to draft a redevelopment plan for the city. The Bleakly Advisory Group is the same Atlanta-based consulting firm that assisted Gainesville in developing its tax district. And the firm is now working with officials in Oakwood to develop a tax allocation district there.

Assessed property values within and near the district are expected to rise as public infrastructure projects funded by tax district proceeds are constructed within the district. Only projects within the defined district can receive the funding generated by the district.

Tax allocation districts allow tax proceeds from rising assessed property values to be pooled into a fund to support various redevelopment projects including sewer expansion and repair, storm drainage, street construction, park improvements, traffic control, property acquisition and environmental remediation.

Municipalities can implement multiple tax allocation districts, and the first Flowery Branch district will go into effect on Dec. 31. Following an agreement with Hall County government and the school board, who will negotiate the terms of their contract with the city to forego potential tax revenue increments early next year, all tax proceeds generated from rising property values over the $18,049,333 baseline will fund the redevelopment plan.

Bleakly Advisory Group will continue to advise Flowery Branch officials as they come to an agreement with Hall County government and the school board. The time period and financing method for the tax allocation district will be determined during the negotiation process with the county.



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