With special purpose local option sales tax revenue coming in at about 60 percent of projections, Flowery Branch has faced a challenging funding environment, City Manager Bill Andrew said.
The city’s portion of revenues, estimated to be about $2.5 million, was originally expected to be used toward the completion of four proposed capital projects. SPLOST VI was approved by voters in 2009.
The city’s SPLOST VI project budget has since been amended to $1.5 million, of which $1.1 million has been collected and approximately $800,000 spent.
The revenue shortfall has forced city administration to revise its plans, but anticipated growth makes decisions difficult.
The city’s largest SPLOST VI project would build a sewer pump station and line that would divert wastewater treatment from its Cinnamon Cove location to the city’s plant on Atlanta Highway.
To complete the $2.9 million project, Andrew said, the city intended to use around $1.3 million from SPLOST VI revenue, financing the remainder with a Georgia Environmental Finance Authority loan.
“The reduction in SPLOST VI revenue simply means we have increased our request from GEFA to cover the difference,” he said. “We are requesting $1.5 million from GEFA and are anticipating the use of $565,225 from SPLOST VI.
“If this particular GEFA loan application is not approved,” he added, “then the city will work with GEFA to submit an improved application.”
Sewer project construction is expected to begin in May, with completion about one year later. The city’s loan application is set to be considered at the end of this month.
Planned road resurfacing and sidewalk improvements have been completed, but are considered underfunded, and plans to replace nine police cars, over six years, have been revised to four.
With approval earlier this month of a comprehensive redevelopment plan for the historic city center, acquiring funding remains a priority. A SPLOST VII referendum is expected to be placed in front of voters this fall. City officials are in the early stages of planning a project list.
“The mayor and council have certainly indicated the importance of SPLOST VII for assisting with the redevelopment of the downtown Flowery Branch,” Andrew said. “We are hoping to partner with a quality developer who we can assist with roadwork, parking, stormwater control and water-sewer lines to create the live-work-play, vibrant downtown that we feel is happening now and will continue to grow.”
The SPLOST law, enacted by Georgia legislators in 1985, authorizes a county tax of 1 percent on items subject to state sales tax. The revenue is to be used toward the funding of capital projects, which are intended to benefit the county as a whole.