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Taxes, budget among items getting votes at Flowery Branch City Council meeting
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The fate of a longtime digital sign announcing Flowery Branch at I-985 is up in the air as council members debate whether to repair it or put up another "gateway" sign. - photo by Scott Rogers

Flowery Branch City Council voted on city finances, including next year’s budget and millage rate that will increase taxes for some, and long-range plans at its meeting Thursday, June 17.

Here’s a look at actions taken:

2021 tax rate gets final OK

The council set the 2021 tax rate at 3.264 mills, a move that means higher taxes for anyone who saw their property values increase in the past year.

Under state law, not rolling the rate back to a “revenue-neutral” level is considered a tax increase, and three public hearings must be scheduled. To keep the revenue amount at the same level as it was last year, the city would have to reduce the tax rate to 3.116 mills. 

The third hearing took place Thursday, followed by final approval.

Under the tax rate formula of 40% of market value, 1 mill equals $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value. So, a $250,000 home would be taxed at $326.40.

New budget includes sewer plant project

The fiscal 2022 budget, which takes effect July 1, was adopted.

The budget has a $6 million general fund, which covers daily operations, including salaries. The city proposes to add several positions in 2021-22, including additional staffing in police. Earlier this year, city officials discussed beefing up the payroll in response to the city’s rapid growth.

Flowery Branch operates with several other budgets, including its water/sewer capital projects fund. At $13 million, that fund is especially large this year, as the city embarks on an expansion of its sewer plant — also to keep up with growth.

City’s comprehensive plan is approved

After months of review and public scrutiny, Flowery Branch’s Comprehensive Plan 2041, a 20-year plan guiding Flowery Branch’s future growth, was approved.

The plan will specifically address how the city should develop over the next two decades, factoring in economic development, housing and quality of life.

Local governments “must maintain and regularly update their comprehensive plan to be eligible for certain grants and loans,” according to the city.

The document has been checked off by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission. It now will be forwarded to the GMRC.

No repairs imminent for digital sign

City Council voted to deny spending $42,000 to repair/upgrade the city’s digital welcome sign off Interstate 985 at Spout Springs Road.

“The staff has decided we need to hold off on (repairs) because we only have a couple weeks left in this budget year,” said Vickie Short, interim city manager. “We were not able to get the information needed, such as concepts and being able to bid it out.”

The project was meant as an amendment to the 2020-21 budget, which ends June 30.

At the June 3 City Council meeting, council members expressed concerns about repairs, given the sign’s history of not working properly and whether it’s at the best location.

The council ended up voting to table the matter until June 17 to give city staft time to explore other angles, including checking with a company that has been tapped by the city to put up public signs around the city.