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No new taxes for Flowery Branch planned in budget
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Public hearing

When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: City Hall, 5517 Main St., Flowery Branch
Contact: 770-967-6371

Flowery Branch will see its revenues drop by about 3 percent next year, but residents won’t have to pick up the slack.

In rolling out its proposed budget this week, the Flowery Branch City Council is proposing to keep the tax rate the same, City Manager Bill Andrew said Monday.

Overall, the city proposes to spend about $3.6 million next year, compared to $3.74 million this year.

In what has been a tough economy for most governments, Flowery Branch’s new budget, which takes effect July 1, shows revenues dropping in several areas.

For example, hotel/motel taxes are projected to drop 32 percent and the city’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax fund is expected to decrease by 38 percent.

The city is proposing cuts in several areas, including its SPLOST program, to make up the difference.

City Council, which is holding a public hearing on the budget Thursday night, has differed over whether to include funding for the Better Hometown Program, Andrew said.

Better Hometown is a Georgia Department of Community Affairs initiative designed to improve cities’ downtown areas.

The city’s 2010-11 budget calls for $48,122 to pay for the program, compared to $19,925 this year.

Former Better Hometown manager Dinah Wayne “was only paid on an hourly basis,” Andrew said. “She wasn’t even putting in a part-time number of hours.” The proposed budget calls for a full-time manager.

Despite the economy, the city was able to end monthly employee furloughs earlier this year and is emerging from the 2009-10 budget year with a surplus of $200,000 to $250,000.

“That isn’t revenue for next year. It’ll be money that keeps the checking accounts afloat,” Andrew said.

Andrew plans to ask the council on Thursday to consider a contract with Gainesville-based Capable Financial Solutions to study “how we can structure the budget to make use of those kinds of funds more efficiently.”

The firm’s principal consultant is Sabrina Cape, whose past work includes serving as Gainesville’s finance director and assistant city manager.

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