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Flowery Branch to cut budget through furloughs
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FLOWERY BRANCH — In creating a balanced budget, the Flowery Branch City Council approved several measures that will directly affect city employees.

During Wednesday’s meeting, the group approved the fiscal year 2010 budget that included cost-saving measures such as requiring city employees to take one unpaid day off each month and a salary freeze that takes effect beginning June 30.

The furlough days are expected to save the city about $74,000.

Although the budget ultimately passed, Councilman Craig Lutz took issue with funding sources for the budget’s enterprise fund.

"I have a problem with the rate structure that is pushing the enterprise fund," said Lutz.

"I have a problem with the water and sewer rate structures. I want them to be fair."

Currently, city residents who moved to Flowery Branch after June 2000 pay a higher water and sewer rate than those who lived in the city before that date.

Lutz called the rate practice "unfair."

The City Council also discussed creating a new false alarm ordinance.

The goal of the proposed ordinance is to cut back on the number of false service calls that the city police department has to respond to each year.

"As you can see from the statistics, we have been experiencing growth with the number of false alarm calls," said Bill Andrew, city manager.

"In 2006, there were 425 calls. In 2007, there were 487 calls and in 2008 there were 642 false alarm calls. And so far in 2009 we are on track to mimic the numbers from 2008."

According to Police Chief Gerald Lanich, responding to unnecessary calls costs the city valuable resources.

"On average, our officers spend around 25 to 30 minutes on each of these calls," Lanich said.

"If it is a business, it can take anywhere from one to two hours to resolve the call."

If the ordinance is passed, it would establish a fine system for businesses and residences where the police department responds to more than three false alarms.

The council postponed taking any action on the matter until its next meeting on June 3.

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