Flowery Branch plans to use a final design "to get a firmer estimate" on how much a long-awaited sewer expansion project would cost. But for now, the city is looking at a possible $1.6 million price tag.
The city has $1.3 million in 1-cent special purpose local option sales tax revenue pegged for the project, with the balance likely coming from a sewer capital reserve fund, City Manager Bill Andrew said.
The shortfall is "not a hurdle we can't overcome," he added. "It's not going to stop the project."
Flowery Branch has long considered beefing up the capacity at its Atlanta Highway sewer plant. In 2009, it acquired the permit to operate an aging plant run by the Cinnamon Cove condominium complex at 6500 Gaines Ferry Road.
The project southwest of town calls for building two sewer lift stations, including one replacing an aging sewer plant at Cinnamon Cove and a force main line.
The new line will cross McEver Road around an area where the city is hoping commercial and manufacturing development will take place.
"The hope is once we get the line under way and people see what's happening, people might start wanting to buy some sewer capacity to build something," Andrew said.
"We think (the new line) could make a difference," he added, citing a grocery store as a potential development in the Gaines Ferry-McEver area.
The new line's construction could take place this fall, "but that's going to depend on a lot of factors," Andrew said.
The next step for Flowery Branch is to talk to the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority about a loan.
At an interest rate of about 3 percent, the city might want to look at taking out a larger loan, one that could pay for some other infrastructure needs, Andrew told the City Council in December.
The city needs to replace some water lines with ones that meet sizes required for fire protection, an effort that could cost about $300,000.
Also, "when treated water leaves the (sewer) plant, it goes underneath the railroad right behind the plant," Andrew said. "That line is really no longer functioning as it should."
Replacing that line could cost $350,000.
"GEFA might really help us get some projects done we've been needing to put in the ground for a number of years," Andrew said. "That financing could be a real tool to spur some changes ... and get us on a good footing."
Also, Andrew added, GEFA will "work with us to make sure that the reserves we have, the rates we have, the customer base ... will afford whatever loan we enter to.
"We won't be doing something that would be (risky), because they won't allow us to do that."
Nicole Linton, spokeswoman for the finance authority, said the agency typically does "loan packages for bundling those type of projects."