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Same tax rate, but higher taxes for some in Flowery Branch
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Flowery Branch Finance Director Alisha Gamble talks to the City Council Wednesday, June 20, about the city’s proposed tax rate and budget for fiscal 2019, which begins July 1. - photo by Jeff Gill

Flowery Branch’s tax rate seems poised to stay the same for city residents in 2018-19, but that could still mean higher taxes for some.

The City Council gave its first OK Wednesday, June 20, to setting the tax rate at 3.264 mills as it moves closer to adopting a fiscal 2019 budget, which takes effect July 1. Final approval will come later.

To keep revenues the same, the rate would have to be rolled back to 3.078 mills, according to city officials.

One mill is equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value.

Residents with higher property assessments this year could see a higher tax bill even though the rate stays the same. They could see some relief on Hall County taxes, however, as result of a service delivery agreement last year between the county and Hall’s cities.

Still, a city “rollback should be a relief” for taxpayers who have seen higher assessments, said Councilman Joe Anglin, the lone council member to oppose setting the rate at 3.264 mills.

Voting for the tax rate were councilwomen Amy Farah and Mary Jones, as well as Mayor Mike Miller.

The council heard from one resident, Jennifer Reuter, who lives downtown. She said her taxes have gone up $700 over the past two years.

“That’s a lot,” she said. “My taxes are going up way too much.”

Miller questioned whether her increases were coming just from Flowery Branch or as part of her total tax bill. He noted that Hall County school taxes account for more than half of tax bills.

“I’m sure it’s a combination,” Reuter said. 

But she said she also has wondered what’s happening with downtown business development.

“We’ve got all this space ... that can be used for business and the business income that could come into the city,” she said. “I wonder why that’s not moving along quicker.”

“It takes a while to do this kind of thing,” Miller said. “(Completion of the new City Hall) took longer than it was supposed to take. Once we got (the new building), we vacated (downtown space), and there’s property there … and we’re working with a developer to get that (redevelopment) started.”

News about redevelopment could come in the next few weeks, the mayor added.

Overall, the city is expecting a $217,844 increase in revenue in the next fiscal year, with $74,891 coming from property reassessments and $142,953 from growth, Gamble has said.

The additional revenue is expected to help in five areas: construction of a new “pocket park,” or small public park, on the southwest corner of the Lights Ferry Road roundabout; contracted services for help with building and erosion inspections; salary and benefits for a new police officer position; new police vehicle; and a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment and possible 3 percent merit increases for city staff.

“With all the growth we’ve got coming, all the homes we’ve approved, we’ve got so many needs, particularly law enforcement,” Miller has said. “Residences will pull more resources than they can contribute. It just seems like the right thing to do … and will allow us to focus on some infrastructure issues.”

A third and final public hearing on the proposed tax increase is set for 6 p.m. June 28 at City Hall, 5410 Pine St. 

The budget will be considered for adoption by the City Council at 6 p.m. June 28.

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