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Flowery Branch, Hall join forces to widen Spout Springs Road
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Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew talks about an application for federal stimulus money — up to $100 million — to widen Spout Springs Road to four lanes.

FLOWERY BRANCH — Hall County is working with Flowery Branch and Braselton to seek $79 million federal stimulus money to widen Spout Springs Road to four lanes.

Flowery Branch City Council voted Wednesday to authorize Mayor Diane Hirling to sign a letter from the city supporting the application.

Spout Springs Road runs between Interstate 985 and Ga. 124/Braselton Highway in Gwinnett County, extending from Flowery Branch in the west to Braselton in the east.

The two-lane road is heavily traveled, as residential and commercial growth has taken place throughout the area.

Hall County already is looking at using 1-cent sales tax money to make several minor improvements, including a traffic light at Elizabeth Lane and adding a third, center-turn lane between Elizabeth and Union Circle.

Hall will compete against the Georgia Port Authority and the Georgia Department of Transportation for the grant, Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew told the council.

"I think there’s two strengths to the application, other than the fact the work is dearly needed," Andrew said. "We may be one of the few applicants of our size in the pool and they may want to try to fund a small jurisdiction for this work."

Also, "we think we’ve got a good shot with the design money already in place," he added.

The grant application is due Sept. 15.

"The evaluation of those applications should take some time," Andrew said.

Nikki Young, spokeswoman for Hall County government, said the Board of Commissioners will take up the matter, mainly whether to apply to the U.S. Department of Transportation for the grant, next week in a work session and business meeting.

In other business, City Council voted to repay TreePark Apartments on Thurmon Tanner Parkway $39,384 for incorrect billing on sewer rates.

The mistake stemmed from the omission of language in a resolution approved by council last year concerning a 12-month stepped-up rate. The city charged the higher rates without the proper backing in the resolution.

The council’s vote will result in an average credit or refund of $93.77, spanning a year, for each apartment unit.

In July, the city was ahead 3 percent in sewer operating revenue, "so we do not see this ($39,384) reduction as being too damaging to the bottom line," Andrew in a report to council.

Also, as expected, City Council voted 3-2 to set the property tax rate at 2.837 mills, with 1 mill translating to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value.

Councilmen Chris Fetterman and Craig Lutz voted against the tax rate. Both have said they believed it could be lower based on some unnecessary spending.

Council members Mary Jones, Pat Zalewski and Allen Bryans Sr. voted for it.

The rate is unchanged for the fourth straight year.

Taxes generated by the rate will help fund a $4 million budget council approved — also by 3-2 vote, with the same council members for and against — earlier this year.

The budget calls for a salary freeze and city employees to take one unpaid day off each month.

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