Flowery Branch council members approved both the initial reading of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget, along with keeping the millage rate at 3.337 as it was for 2015. Councilman Joe Anglin voted against the millage rate. Along with reassessment of existing property and the addition of new properties, maintaining the millage rate is a technical property tax increase of 10.39 percent, though not all property owners would see an increase. Two additional public hearings are scheduled for the millage rate, at 9 a.m. June 9 and 6 p.m. June 18. Both hearings will be at Flowery Branch City Hall, 5517 Main St.
Council members also approved an alcohol beverage license and lease agreement with the expected new owners of Growlers on Main to Robert Sabbath and Marc Stampfli. City Clerk Melissa McCain said the business has been sold, with a potential takeover date by Sabbath and Stampfli on June 14.
Flowery Branch city leaders continued Thursday hammering out details on an intergovernmental agreement with Hall County regarding left-hand turn lanes on McEver Road.
An initial agreement with Hall County was approved by the Flowery Branch Council at its May 7 meeting, detailing the improvements to be made at the intersection of McEver Road, Jim Crow Road and Gainesville Street.
The agreement also included paving Gainesville Street from McEver to Chestnut Street in downtown Flowery Branch. A 980-foot stretch of the road is within unincorporated Hall County.
County commissioners tabled voting on that agreement until the county’s June 11 meeting.
Meanwhile, at Thursday’s Flowery Branch council meeting, leaders considered a second intergovernmental agreement, addressing only the paving along Gainesville Street. This agreement asks the county to reimburse Flowery Branch the $66,579.47 for paving the county’s portion of the road.
A contractor, Allied Paving, has already been approved for the Gainesville Street paving project.
City Manager Bill Andrew expressed concern that the county road is in between two city portions, meaning if the city only went ahead and paved their parts, motorists would go from newly paved road to a degraded road, a potential safety hazard.
“And what do we do if (the county doesn’t) accept this new proposed IGA?” Councilman Fred Richards asked.
“We would leave out the 980 feet,” Andrew replied. “That’s what the contractor’s waiting for me to tell him on (June 12), is to tell him whether we’re going to pave the entire thing or whether we’re going to leave out the 980 feet.
“I’ll surely call the (Hall County) public works director to see if they can work with us to have it paved around a similar time,” Andrew added.
Per the approved contract with Allied Paving for the work, all paving must be completed by Aug. 31. Andrew said the contractor is waiting to hear whether or not to move forward on the 980 feet in question.
As for the turn lanes on McEver Road, Mayor Mike Miller pointed out that this particular intersection improvement was approved by voters in the fifth installment of the special purpose local option sales tax, voted on in 2004.
“The SPLOST was voted on in March 2004, which included intersection improvements at $5.7 million,” Andrew said. “While the ballot itself may have not have mentioned this intersection, there was supporting documentation that the SPLOST vote in 2004 that (provided for) this intersection receiving $1.1 million for turn lanes and traffic signals here for those turn lanes on each four sides.”
“They have now decided that that’s not theirs to pave,” Miller said after the meeting. “Because it’s in the city limits, that they don’t need to pay for it even though it was approved on SPLOST V.
“It is a safety hazard,” Miller continued, regarding the intersection. “Any time you go through there in the morning time when school’s in session or in the afternoon at dismissal, it’s large backups. Buses are making, I believe they’re called ‘suicide left turns,’ and the county just continues to ignore the fact that it was voter approved in SPLOST V.”
Both agreements -- one including the McEver Road turn lanes and one only addressing Gainesville Street paving -- are expected to be considered at the June 11 commission meeting.
Richards was the only one who voted against sending a second agreement to the county.
“I think I’m more in favor of tabling this current IGA until they come to a decision on the first one,” Richards said prior to the vote. “Let’s see their decision on the turn lanes first before we give them an easy way out.”