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Flowery Branch budget tighter, but no tax increase planned
Furlough days also not expected
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Flowery Branch’s budget for fiscal 2012, which takes effect July 1, is still “a work in progress,” but at this point, “it looks as if we will not raise property taxes,” Mayor Mike Miller said Monday.

“And it looks like we’re not going to have any furlough days or anything of that sort,” he said.

Flowery Branch city officials plan to present the fiscal 2012 budget at Thursday’s City Council meeting.

The budget becomes available to the public at 9 a.m. Thursday, with the budget discussion set to precede the regular council meeting, which starts at 6 p.m.

Residents can view the budget at City Hall, 5517 Main St., where the council meeting will take place.

The budget discussion was added as an agenda item Monday morning.

The South Hall city is operating this year with a $5.5 million budget, including $3.6 million in its general fund and $1.9 million for water and sewer operations.

That budget marked a 2.1 decrease from the previous year’s overall budget, which was $5.62 million.

This year’s budget could fall to about $4.9 million, with property tax revenues dropping to just below $600,000 from $731,500 this budget year, Miller said.

“We’re in the same boat everyone is. Property taxes are down. We’re having to stretch pennies where we can,” he said.

City Manager Bill Andrew, who couldn’t be reached for comment, has prepared council members for some lean numbers, telling them at an April 21 meeting that the tax digest, or list of taxable properties, was showing a 4.47 percent drop in values.

The decrease translated to a loss of about $34,000 in tax revenues, but that number could worsen, climbing to $40,000 or higher, Andrew said.

Also, tax collections are slower this budget year, which ends June 30, he said at the time.

“We’re $64,000 down this year ... and we could be another $40,000 to $50,000 down next year,” Andrew said.

The city’s tax rate is 2.837 mills, with 1 mill equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value.
Property is assessed at 40 percent in the city.
In other business, Andrew is scheduled to resume discussion on a plan to buy seven new police cars.

The city has mulled spending $140,245 on the cars, draining most of what’s left in a previous 1-percent special purpose local option sales tax program.

Hall County and its cities are now raising money for capital projects through the six-year SPLOST VI, which was approved by voters in March 2009. The previous program, with a five-year lifespan, was approved by voters in March 2004.

Flowery Branch raised $590,049 in SPLOST V and now has a $147,421 balance. Andrew has said the rest of the SPLOST money, or $7,176, could be spent on street paving.

The city bought nine police cars between 2004 and 2007 and just four since 2007, when the economy began to nosedive.

“With concerns over revenue, it has been difficult to purchase vehicles on a regular basis,” Andrew has said.
The matter was discussed at the May 5 council meeting, but no action was taken.