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Flowery Branch looking at replacing police cars
SPLOST money will be used for expense
Flowery Branch Police Cpl. Eric Cook, right, and officer David Jackels chat before entering one of the department’s oldest patrol cars Wednesday afternoon. The City Council is set to vote tonight on the possible replacement of the department’s older cars using special purpose local option sales tax money.

Flowery Branch City Council

When: 6 tonight

Where: City Hall, 5517 Main St.

Contacts: 770-967-6371 or online


Seven new police cars may be on the way in Flowery Branch, with the expense draining most of what's left in a previous 1 percent special purpose local option sales tax program.

City Manager Bill Andrew plans to recommend to City Council tonight that the city spend $140,245 on the cars and the rest of the SPLOST money, or $7,176, on street paving.

"While there is no set deadline, I would recommend that we utilize these funds soon simply to close out this account," Andrew said in a document on the request.

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.

"The city would like to replace seven high-mileage patrol cars in order to improve safety and reliability and cut down on maintenance costs," Andrew said of tonight's request.

Police Chief Gerald Lanich said with one officer, "driving one vehicle, you can get four to six years of wear out of (the car)."

That's opposed to "hot-seating," where cars are constantly in operation with the change in officers' shifts. Those vehicles last about a year, Lanich said.

"The motor never cools off," he added.

Flowery Branch bought nine 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 said. "While there is $200,000 for patrol cars in (the current SPLOST), it is difficult to know if these funds will ever come in."

He added that, "if they do, they will be behind the need to pay for Cinnamon Cove and real estate acquisition."

The city is planning to run a sewer line from the Cinnamon Cove condominium complex at 6500 Gaines Ferry Road to its Atlanta Highway sewer plant.

It has $1.3 million in SPLOST revenue pegged for the project, but costs are now estimated to run higher, as much as $1.6 million.

Flowery Branch is eyeing seven 2012 Chevrolet Impalas with a three-year or 34,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and five-year or 100,000-mile warranty on the drive train, Andrew said.

The cars would be delivered in September or October.

The cost to equip each car is about $6,000, with that money coming from the city's asset forfeiture account, which has a $65,120 balance, Andrew said.

As for the old cars, "they have to be auctioned off and that money goes to the general fund," Lanich said.