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Flowery Branch OKs budget for next fiscal year
Budget is set at about $5 million
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Flowery Branch City Council voted Thursday night to approve its fiscal 2012 budget, which takes effect July 1, rejecting a proposal to increase the salary for the Municipal Court judge and solicitor.

"I just think you've got a lot of people who'd love to get raises," said Councilman Joe Anglin. "I know the judge and solicitor are part-time employees, but I just think if we were going to use that money, I'd vote for (it to go) somewhere else.

"Put it into roads or somewhere, but to give just two people a specific raise is not consistent with some of the decisions we've made."

Councilman Kris Yardley said, "I'll remind you that in December we gave a 3 percent raise (to city employees) and we also paid a 17 percent increase in health care costs the prior year and most of a 22 percent increase in health care costs this year.

"We also gave back furlough days and retirement, so there was a lot given to all the employees, except for these two part-time positions."

The request called for the judge's pay to increase to $12,000 per year from $9,600 and the solicitor's pay to $10,200 from $8,000.

The council ended up voting 3-2 on the budget, excluding the raises, with Yardley and Councilman Amanda Swafford opposed.

The budget, which calls for no tax increase, is set at about $5 million, down from the current $5.7 million. It is divided between $3.3 million for general fund expenses and $1.7 million for water and sewer operations.

A tighter year means no pay increases or change in benefits for employees, but at least workers are spared furloughs in the coming year.

The city's budget for roads maintenance is dropping to $81,000 from $115,000, but a $30,000 budget is being created for stormwater management.

The tax rate will remain at 2.837 mills, with 1 mill equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value. Property is assessed at 40 percent in the city.

However, Flowery Branch is proposing utility rate increases — 2 percent for water and 2 percent for sewer — and raising the monthly utility bill charge for both services to $2.75 from $2.50.