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Flowery Branch City Council gives first OK to tax rate
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Flowery Branch City Councilmen Chris Fetterman and Craig Lutz comment on a proposed tax rate for the 2008-09 budget.

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Flowery Branch City Council was divided in its first approval Wednesday morning of a tax rate to go with its 2008-09 budget.

The proposed 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.

The rate hasn’t changed, so residents whose property values have remained the same or dropped would see taxes do likewise.

But because reassessments are producing some higher property values, the city could roll back the rate to 2.835 mills and generate the same total revenue on the current year’s digest that last year’s tax rate would have produced.

The city isn’t proposing to do that, opting instead to bring in the extra money, which amounts to about $90,000.

Councilmen Chris Fetterman and Craig Lutz voted against the tax rate, with Fetterman saying he is a "pro low-tax, anti-tax kind of person."

Fetterman wanted to drop the rate to 2.637 mills, which Lutz didn’t favor.

Allen Bryans Sr., Pat Zalewski and Mary Jones voted for the 2.837 rate.

"The police department has a lot more area to patrol ... and the roadwork we need to do in the city would easily eat up that (extra money)," Bryans said. "And this way, we’re not increasing taxes on people."

State law requires three public hearings if the city proposes a rate higher than the rollback rate.

Flowery Branch’s first hearing was Wednesday, with no one speaking on the matter.

The second hearing is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 11. The final hearing is set for the council’s regularly scheduled Sept. 17 meeting, which begins at 9:30 a.m.

The tax rate is scheduled to be approved after the final hearing.

The last two hearings will take place at City Hall, 5517 Main St.

Also on Wednesday, the council unanimously approved a $15 million mixed-use development planned for downtown.

Old Town Flowery Branch plans to feature six townhomes, 21 condominiums, 14 lofts/apartments, a grocery store, office and retail space, a nearly half-acre park and a restaurant with outdoor seating.

The project, which could get started later this year, also calls for a 262-space parking deck that will resemble a historic mill building.