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Proposed Flowery Branch budget includes employee raises, new council software
Unchanged millage rate will increase tax rate for some
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Flowery Branch FY2016 millage rate

What: Public hearings regarding Flowery Branch’s millage rate of 3.337

When: 9 a.m. Tuesday and 6 p.m. June 18

Where: Flowery Branch City Hall, 5517 Main Street

More info: www.flowerybranchga.org

Flowery Branch residents have two more opportunities to discuss the city’s upcoming budget and property tax, with Fiscal Year 2016 set to begin July 1.

The 2016 budget comes in at $3.53 million, up 2.7 percent from 2015. Some of the more notable additions to proposed budget are a 2-percent cost of living adjustment and 2-percent merit increases for city employees.

Other additions include replacing the sign at the Interstate 985 intersection for $15,000, increasing the hourly rate for the city attorney from $125 to $150 and installing paperless software for the city council at the rate of $600 per month.

“The paperless council software is something that’s pretty impressive,” councilman Joe Anglin said. “We should have some cost savings because we’ll no longer have to provide paper for all of us ... and then also for the printing, as well.

“And then, the nice thing about that software, for the council members and for the public, (they’re) going to be able to go back and search items that we have talked about here.”

With property taxes making up 24 percent of general fund revenue, city leaders are considering leaving the millage rate at 3.337.

So that no one would see a tax increase, the millage rate would have had to have been rolled back to 3.023. By leaving the rate as is, it’s considered a tax increase of 10.39 percent, or around $22 for a home with a fair market value of $175,000.

“There’s two ways that this increase happened,” Flowery Branch Finance Director Jeremy Perry explained. “The first one being, reassessment of existing property. And the other being new property, or improvements to existing property. The reassessments of existing property increased this year to $25 million. Last year, we had actually had a decline of $19,000.”

He added that properties that have not been reassessed will see no change in their property tax from the previous year.

“Any properties that did increase would see, on average, a $21 bill ... increase on their property taxes,” Perry said.

Both initial readings of the proposed budget and millage rate were approved at Thursday’s council meeting.

“I’m glad that you’re going to leave it where it is,” Flowery Branch resident Wallace Stiving said regarding the millage rate. “I don’t think it should be rolled back at this time. You guys came under a lot of pressure in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and you didn’t increase it during that time. And I thank you for that, because you could have and you probably should have. That was some rough times for you.

“I’d like to see this money, if you have extra, be put aside so that when we have a problem with the sewer system that we had this past year ... I’d like to see you be able to have that as a cushion and take care of a $100,000 expenditure that you don’t expect.”

Anglin voted against the millage rate, declaring he was “always against tax raises.”

“For me to vote for a tax increase, in my opinion, falsifies every conversation I’ve ever had,” he said. “So therefore, I will never, ever vote for a tax increase. So I’m not for this. And I believe that everything in this budget, all the new expenses that are being added to this budget, can be paid for without this tax increase. I’m firmly considered of that.”

Mayor Mike Miller said he didn’t consider maintaining the millage rate a tax increase, clarifying that some residents won’t see an increase.

“The state makes us advertise it as a tax increase,” Miller said. “We’re not increasing the millage rate. We’re keeping the millage rate the same.”

“We do not control the value of the properties in Flowery Branch,” councilman Fred Richards added.

Two additional public hearings on the millage rate are scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday and 6 p.m. June 18. Both hearings will take place at Flowery Branch City Hall, 5517 Main Street.

Final votes on both the budget and millage rate are expected at the regularly-scheduled council meeting following the June 18 public hearing.

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