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2013-14 tax rate likely to remain the same in Flowery Branch
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Flowery Branch is moving toward a fiscal 2013-14 budget with the tax rate remaining the same, but with local option sales taxes remaining an unknown factor because of an ongoing dispute between Hall County and the cities.

City officials projected an additional $250,000 in LOST revenue, or an increase from $347,000 to $597,000 next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

That was done “not knowing for sure exactly how much (the amount) will be or when it will come in,” Finance Director Jeremy Perry told Flowery Branch City Council on Thursday night.

“There’s been some concern in that we don’t know when the LOST will start,” City Manager Bill Andrew said. “There are discussions between the county and Gainesville, and I’ve heard the new LOST could come in as early as August or September.

“We just don’t know when the judge will make a decision, so we’ve pushed counting what we believe will be the new LOST.”

City officials have “taken basically what we believe to be the lowest LOST increase that we would take and budgeted it starting in January,” Andrew said.

Overall, the city is proposing a $5.65 million budget, up from this year’s $5.4 million. The proposed general fund for 2013-14 — or the portion that covers basic government operations and salaries — is nearly $2.9 million, up from $2.7 million.

The proposed tax rate is 2.837 mills, unchanged since fiscal 2004-05, with 1 mill equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property tax value, with property assessed at 40 percent.

The budget calls for a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for employees and $16,000 to refurbish a police car instead of buying a new one.

The city is ahead of this year’s budget for fines and forfeitures. Set at $355,000, the city has collected $368,000 so far this year, Perry told the council.

Flowery Branch has budgeted $355,000 in that category for next fiscal year as well.

“We’ve made a conscious decision ... to not pressure the officers to write tickets,” Andrew said. “We don’t want to have that happen unless obviously the law is being broken. I think we’ve cut the revenue expectations (from tickets) in half since I’ve been here.”

City Council has publicly advertised it will vote on the budget June 6.

The vote can be postponed to June 20 as needed, Andrew said, but the city would have to readvertise the vote.

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