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Flowery Branch likely to keep taxes the same
Only 2 councilmen want to cut millage rate
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Listen to Flowery Branch City Councilman Chris Fetterman as he talks about his opposition to the city’s proposed tax rate, which is likely to be passed today.

Tax rate vote

The Flowery Branch City Council plans to set its tax rate for 2009-10.

Flowery Branch’s proposed tax rate, unchanged for the fourth straight year, likely will be passed today but possibly without the help of two of City Council’s five members.

Chris Fetterman and Craig Lutz both said they believe the rate could be lower than the proposed 2.837 mills, with 1 mill translating to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value.

"I’m totally anti-taxes," Fetterman said. "I want to lower taxes as low as we can ... but still fund our government effectively."

City Council gave its first OK at its Aug. 5 meeting, with only Fetterman and Lutz voting against it. Council members Mary Jones, Pat Zalewski and Allen Bryans Sr. voted for it.

At that meeting, Fetterman said he "felt there were contracts in place that created unnecessary expenses on the city and that those funds could have been used to reduce the millage rate and lowering tax bills," according to the meeting minutes.

The council voted in March to OK a contract with a local company, Clearwater Properties, to provide building and soil erosion inspections, as well as construction management and minor construction work.

Fetterman and Lutz voted against the contract, saying that the scope of work did not justify the contract, and that the money could be better spent.

The contract calls for a monthly payment of $2,800 to the firm.

The issue still burns with Lutz.

"We don’t have any inspections going on right now, certainly nothing that our one full-time employee couldn’t do," he said Monday.

At the Aug. 5 meeting, Lutz said he felt the city had "taken on some obligations that he did not feel was fair," the minutes said.

He also noted that city employees were taking mandatory furloughs and, by passing the tax rate, residents would be "taking some sacrifice also."

The council voted in May for a 2009-10 budget that froze salaries and called for city employees to take an unpaid day off each month. The $4 million budget is more than last year’s $3.5 million one.

Fetterman and Lutz voted against the budget, as well.

At meetings, Jones, Zalewski and Bryans have commented little on the issues.

Zalewski defended the tax rate Tuesday, saying it is one of the lowest in the area. "I don’t know if it’s because (Fetterman and Lutz) are so new to being on the council, but you can’t ask to have parks, streets, new lights and sidewalks and then lower your millage rate," she said.