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Flowery Branch City Council to set priorities at retreat
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Listen as Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew talks about the City Council’s retreat Saturday.

Flowery Branch retreat

What: Planning and overview session with Flowery Branch City Council

When: 9 a.m. Saturday

Where: City Hall, 5517 Main St.

Contact: 770-967-6371 or www.flowerybranchga.org

New Flowery Branch City Council members are about to go back to school.

Council members Mike Miller, Tara Richards and Kris Yardley, on the job since Jan. 1, already have seen and heard about a wide range of issues, including a collapsed culvert and a touchy zoning category.

More information and updates are on the way Saturday, when the council holds an all-day retreat with city officials at City Hall, 5517 Main St.

“There are a lot of things on the plate here, and I think a lot of those topics are really meant to be an overview,” City Manager Bill Andrew said Wednesday. “The main effort is to hear from the council and what their priorities are.

“We’ve got three folks who have been in office (briefly), and I really want to try to give them a sense of ownership in their role and letting us know what they see as important coming down the pike.”

Issues of particular concern are gearing up for the passage of the 2010-11 budget, which takes effect July 1, and a capital improvement program for the next five years.

“What we talk about and what we begin to put onto paper could have ramifications for the city a number of years into the future,” Andrew said.

“What we’re really trying to do is just set out an idea of what the council wants to see happening in different years and then basically structure the budget to hit those goals.”

Saturday’s retreat, he added, “might just set the foundation for more conversations.”

The city’s budget is looking brighter.

Andrew announced at the Feb. 18 council meeting that the city now appears it will end the fiscal year on June 30 with a surplus of $150,000 to $180,000.

“Frankly, we underestimated some revenues on property taxes,” he said at the time. “We felt there would be a real hit ... because of the downturn in the economy and so many homes being foreclosed on, and we just didn’t see that happen.”

Also, the city overbudgeted for insurance costs, Andrew added.

He suggested one way to capitalize on the extra money would be to end monthly employee furloughs, which have been in place since the fiscal year started July 1.

Other issues on the table Saturday include current and future development projects and possible zoning code changes.

The new council faced an upset crowd this month over a recent annexation/rezoning proposal that involved the city’s lone manufacturing zoning category.

The council ended up approving the rezoning off McEver and Gaines Ferry roads but removing many potential uses in the process.
City officials also are set to discuss plans to eventually expand the city’s sewer plant on Atlanta Highway.

As part of that effort, Flowery Branch is working on running a sewer line from Cinnamon Cove condominium complex at 6500 Gaines Ferry Road to the sewer plant.

The work calls for building two sewer lift stations, including one replacing an aging sewer plant at the Cinnamon Cove, and a force main line.

The project is expected to cost $1.3 million, with funding coming from the city’s special purpose local option sales tax.

That work could begin later this year, with construction taking six to eight months, Andrew has said.

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