Nearly eight months into a special purpose local option sales tax, Flowery Branch is looking ahead to another tax extension to help pay for future road improvements.
Officials estimate the South Hall County city will need to spend $1.2 million in milling and repaving streets over the next nine years and another $250,000 in a road rebuilding project similar to work that has been done on Gainesville Street.
The city is budgeting $212,000 every other year from its capital improvement program for road work and, moving forward, “we’re looking at SPLOST VIII to fill the gap there,” said City Manager Bill Andrew, who discussed the matter last week with Flowery Branch City Council.
The voter-approved SPLOST VII began July 1 and will run five years. The 1 percent sales tax is estimated to generate $158 million over five years countywide.
In addition to major projects, such as upgrades to the emergency 911 system and renovations to the main library branch in downtown Gainesville, money is distributed to Hall’s cities.
Flowery Branch is set to receive $4.27 million. The bulk of that, or $1.62 million, is slated to go toward construction of a new city hall.
But road needs persist and, in a recent review of city roads, Andrew said, city officials determined that while about 54 percent were in good condition, another 20-30 percent need repaving.
The city has earmarked $1.1 million from SPLOST VII for road work, but it's focused on improving access to the historic downtown district.
Flowery Branch officials are wondering how revenues in SPLOST VIII — if approved by voters — would shake out given the timing of the U.S. Census.
The fast-growing city benefited in SPLOST VII because of population growth reflected in the 2010 census.
“The problem with SPLOST VIII is it’ll be occurring in 2020 and the (census) data won’t be available until 2021,” Andrew said. “So, there’s been some discussion with the cities as to how (Hall County) is going to handle that discrepancy.
“We may still be trying work off census data that will be 10 years old.”
Flowery Branch has been busy lately with road projects on McEver Road and Gainesville Street, including a major resurfacing of Gainesville Street.
The city’s funding for that work comes from its capital improvements fund, this year’s budget and Georgia Department of Transportation local maintenance and improvement grants, Andrew has said.
Also, work is slated to wrap up in March on a downtown roundabout that’s part of the Lights Ferry Connector, a road connecting Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13 to McEver Road.
The connector is being funded through the city’s capital improvement fund, but a bulk of it — or nearly $1.6 million — comes from a loan and grant provided by the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank.