Tax increase hearings
What: Flowery Branch public hearings on property tax increase
When: 8 a.m. Thursday; 6 p.m. June 26
Where: All public hearings will be held at Flowery Branch City Hall, 5517 Main St.
More info: Visit flowerybranchga.org
Flowery Branch city officials are proposing an increased 2015 budget, reflecting the first tax increase in nine years.
The proposed general fund budget jumps around 17 percent, from the approved $2.9 million for fiscal year 2014 to $3.4 million.
Some of that increase is reflected in a higher millage rate, from 2.837 mills — where it’s been for the past nine years — to 3.337.
The increased millage rate translates to a property tax increase of 17.62 percent.
Resident Chris Hartnett, identifying himself as a Sterling on the Lake homeowner, spoke against the proposed tax increase.
“Other people are having hard times in this economy,” Hartnett said to council. “(They have) spouses that have lost jobs, or have less of a job than they did have before. Insurance has gone up for everybody. I pay $1,000 a month for four people in my family, and it’s a $3,000 deductible.
“I don’t see where we need an increase from what we’ve had, with businesses increasing and everything else that’s come in here,” he added. “That’s a heck of an increase. We’ve done OK over the last 10 years, and to jump that much in one year is ridiculous.”
City Finance Director Jeremy Perry gave the example of a home with a fair market value of $175,000; the proposed tax increase for that home would be around $35.
The extra revenue generated from that 0.5 mill comes to around $110,000, to be used for capital projects.
Some of the major projects planned for the next year include replacing the Spring Street bridge, washed out in 2013 flooding. There’s also a plan to place dedicated turn lanes on McEver Road to both Gainesville Street and Jim Crow Road, and a more major project with a traffic circle from Lights Ferry Road to Atlanta Highway.
Perry said he also budgeted for a 20 percent increase in health insurance in the general fund; the city’s insurance is due for renewal Dec. 1.
“If we get a better deal ... that will be turned into fund balance,” he said.
The total proposed 2015 budget comes to $7.8 million, up from $5.6 million for 2014.
There’s also a proposed 10 percent increase to water and sewer revenue. Perry said the last water rate increase was in 2011.
“The main users of our water and sewer are single-family residential,” he said, saying most people use between 1,000 and 4,500 gallons monthly.
“So, for example, the 1,000 to 2,500 area, the amount of increase (is around) $1.41,” Perry said. “(From) 2,500 to 4,500, it’ll increase $2.54. And then for our really low users, from 0 to 1,000, 56 cents.”
The next two public hearings on the budget and proposed tax increase are scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday, and 6 p.m. June 26. Both will take place at the Flowery Branch City Hall, 5517 Main St.