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Flowery Branch mulls new project fund as part of 2013 budget
$1.8M in proposed budget would be used to improve infrastructure
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Fiscal 2013 budget
What’s next: Approval by the Flowery Branch City Council
When: 6 p.m. June 21
Where: City Hall, 5517 Main St.
Contact: 770-967-6371 or flowerybranchga.org

Flowery Branch is proposing to start a new “local resources fund” as part of its fiscal 2013 budget.

The $1.8 million fund addresses major infrastructure needs, including stormwater improvements and transportation, over the next several years.

City officials talked about the fund during a public hearing Thursday night on the city’s overall budget, which proposes $5.4 million in spending.

Fiscal 2013 starts July 1, with the City Council set to give its approval June 21. Budget adoption initially was set for June 7.

The budget shows a slight decline in property tax revenues from the amount collected so far this year. But officials are proposing to keep the tax rate at 2.837 mills, with 1 mill equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value.

Initially, the city planned to balance the budget without dipping into its fund balance, or operating reserves.

“We have 4.92 months of operating (reserves) we can run on,” City Finance Director Jeremy Perry told the council. “Per the direction of the council, we’re going to transfer out $187,500 to get it closer to a four-month reserve.”

That amount would serve as seed money for the local resources fund, along with money already set aside for stormwater management and improvements at the intersection of McEver Road and Jim Crow Road/Gainesville Street.

The 2013 amount would run about $222,300, with a stormwater study, the McEver improvements and a $75,000 downtown master study as the first projects.

City officials have cast the budget through 2017 with $337,500 in proposed spending for stormwater and $1.25 million for the long-discussed Lights Ferry Road Connector.

The new road, connecting Snelling Drive to Lights Ferry Road, would enable motorists to travel between two major arteries — Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway and McEver Road — without using a network of downtown streets. The master plan, however, could end up recommending spending for something other than the connector, City Manager Bill Andrew said.

“That information will really help you understand more fully if that road makes a lot of sense,” he said. “$1.25 million is quite a bit of money.”

The budget changes drew praise from council members.

“I’m proud to be part of a group that I feel is working toward a common goal for the citizens of Flowery Branch,” Damon Gibbs said.

Joe Anglin added, “We’re still trying to be cautious in the environment we are in, but at the same time, I think we’re trying to put together a plan to move the city forward, slowly but carefully.”

The city, which is expecting a boost in local option sales tax revenue because of population increases in the 2010 census, plans, at this point, to use LOST money as the new fund’s primary revenue source for 2014-2017.

The proposed 1 percent sales tax for transportation — a referendum going before voters statewide on July 31 — would add some $103,000 per year to the local resources fund, Andrew said after the meeting.

“There’s nothing in our budget for paving. We don’t have a paving program,” he said. “We’re having a paving study that shows what roads need to be paved sort of when, prioritization and all that, so the (sales tax money) would make a difference.”

 

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