Click here for a video preview of the planned Flowery Branch City Hall.
A new $5 million City Hall is in store for Flowery Branch.
Flowery Branch City Council took actions Thursday night kick-starting the project, with construction starting possibly in October and ending in June or July 2017.
The 18,000-square-foot building will be on now-vacant property off Railroad Avenue and West Chestnut Street. The project also calls for Pine Street to be extended from Church Street to Railroad.
The move will help bring city operations, including the police department, under one roof, as offices are scattered about downtown, particularly on Main Street.
The project, however, didn’t get unanimous support from council.
Councilmen Joe Anglin and Chris Mundy opposed measures to go forward with architectural and engineering contracts and services on the project, while council members Mary Jones, Fred Richards and Monica Beatty gave their support.
“I see this as an extension of what we can afford, with the debt we (already) have,” Anglin said. “... In essence, we’re quadrupling our (overall) debt in the matter of two years.
On funding the City Hall project, “I feel like we’re robbing Peter and maybe even Philip and Pontius Pilate to pay Paul,” he said.
Revenue from the current special purpose local sales tax, as well as local funding sources, would help pay for the project and cover loan payments. With interest on a 13-year loan, the project’s total cost could be $6.3 million.
“We’ve been walking down this road for two years,” Richards said in voicing his support. “It’s the year 2016 — I think the citizens of Flowery Branch deserve to have a city hall that has a (public) restroom and that is handicapped accessible.
“I think the city should present a better face to the public than a dilapidated city hall. And the longer we wait, the more expensive it will be to build. I think the time is right.”
Anglin agreed a new city hall is needed.
“I just think $6.3 million is a bit much,” he said.
“That’s quite modest these days,” Richards said. “Go look at Suwanee’s (town hall).”
“Suwanee’s got a whole lot more revenue coming in, and I can’t go look at their books,” Anglin said. “I can look at our books, and these books concern me, with what we’re trying to build.”
Richards asked Finance Director Jeremy Perry, “Are you sleeping all right at night with these numbers?”
Perry paused for a moment, then answered, “Yeah, I talked to two financial institutions today. We’re preapproved and … it’s your decision, at this point.”