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Public hearing tonight for Flowery Branch streetlight fee
Proposal would tack on $11 to tax bills
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Flowery Branch City Council

What: Public hearing and vote on an ordinance concerning streetlight charges
When: 6 tonight
Where: City Hall, 5517 Main St.
Contact: 770-967-6371

Flowery Branch is looking at charging all property owners at least $11 per year on their property tax bills, starting this fall, to cover the costs of streetlights.

The City Council, meeting at 6 tonight in City Hall, is scheduled to give its first vote on an ordinance that deals with recovering costs and correcting what has been deemed a longstanding inequity — the city paying for public streetlights in some neighborhoods but not for others.

The ordinance proposes setting up two "special assessment districts" — one for Newberry Point, Madison Creek and Portsmouth subdivisions — and one for all properties in the city, including the three subdivisions.

Newberry Point and Madison Creek residents would pay $45 per year and Portsmouth residents, $40 per year.

The difference in charges between those subdivisions is based on the number of lights and properties served by the lights.

All other taxpayers would pay $11.

"By isolating (the three subdivisions), they are being treated the same way every other subdivision is in the city in the sense that every other subdivision is either paying for their streetlights on an individual basis or paying through their (homeowners association)," City Planner James Riker said.

The city's 2011-2012 budget, which became effective July 1, covers streetlight costs through October, leaving open how to continue funding them the rest of the fiscal year.

In the past, the city has spent $36,000 per year on streetlights.

The council has set up two public hearings on the matter, the first one taking place tonight. The second public hearing is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 6.
"We're going to listen (to the public)," Councilman Kris Yardley said in a previous interview.

"If (residents) don't want it, we'll put it back in the budget. If that's something the citizens are willing to pay for, that's what we'll do."

The City Council voted Sept. 1 to approve an ordinance that sets up the framework for creating the assessment districts.

"This is just one of those infrastructure deals that government is involved in," City Councilman Joe Anglin said at the time. "And I think every citizen, every business owner in the city has to take part in it.

"Everybody benefits from the lights: The police need it, businesses need it ... so it's good to look and see how we can all fairly pay (for them)."

The council is set to vote Oct. 20 on the new charges. If approved, they would be part of property tax bills going out Nov. 1.

In other business tonight, the council is set to consider a request by Shane's Rib Shack in Stonebridge Village Shopping Center off Spout Springs Road to sell liquor by the drink.

The restaurant now just sells beer and wine.