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Flowery Branch budget process to start soon
2012-13 budget takes effect July 1
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Flowery Branch is gearing up for a new budget season.

City officials have set a schedule of dates leading up to a projected June 7 vote on the 2012-13 budget, which takes effect July 1.

City Council is slated to begin meeting with officials April 23 to review a draft of the general fund budget.

The early budget will be one that City Manager Bill Andrew crafts through talking with department heads and determining their current and future needs, he said.

A public hearing is set May 17 on an official draft of the budget.

Finances also could be discussed as part of long-range planning during the council's annual retreat, set for March 17 at City Hall, 5517 Main St. In the past, Andrew said, the council has done "capital budget planning, looking forward five years."

This year's budget is about $5.1 million, including water and sewer expenses. Last year's council kept the tax rate the same at 2.837 mills, with 1 mill equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value and property assessed at 40 percent.

Andrew said he does expect a very slight increase in water and sewer rates in 2012-13 "to keep pace with our costs, like what Gainesville has been doing and what we did last year."

The good news for ratepayers is that "we've got the rates to where we don't have to look at major structural changes," he added.

For the most part, this year's water-sewer budget is on track, Andrew said.

"We're a little behind on water and sewer revenue, but we're having those numbers made up by other revenue in the departments," he said.

Andrew has said he plans to give a mid-fiscal-year update on city finances and other issues at the City Council's Thursday meeting.

As a preview to that talk, he said the city has been able to hold down costs and is ahead on expected revenue.

"Right now, the budget is looking very healthy for this time of year," Andrew said.

One example is property tax revenue.

"We're actually about 4 percent ahead of what we anticipated for property taxes, so that is good," Andrew said. "We went very low (on the projection)."

Also, during the months ahead, the city will get fresh pairs of eyes to consider finances. A March 6 special election is set to fill the Post 2 and Post 3 seats on City Council.

And Councilwoman Tara Richards likely won't be around for budget talks. A U.S. Air Force Reserves captain, she is training for a six-month deployment to Afghanistan, possibly starting in late February or early March.


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