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SKF, Flowery Branch agree on annexation deal
Agreement gives company 6 years to save money for move
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FLOWERY BRANCH — A West Hall bearing manufacturer will connect to Flowery Branch’s sewer system later this year as part of an agreement that requires the company to pursue annexation by September 2017.

Flowery Branch City Council approved the agreement Thursday night with SKF USA, which is at 5385 McEver Road.

“It doesn’t cost the city anything, and we’ve got the opportunity to bring in a winning company six years down the road,” said Councilman Joe Anglin, who, as mayor pro tem, presided over the meeting in the absence of Mayor Mike Miller.

“I think it’s great,” Councilwoman Mary Jones said. “I’m new (to the council), but the fact that the council before me and (city officials) were able to make this work — that’s what it’s going to take to make the city go forward.

“You’ve got to have companies and people to work together.”

Movement toward the agreement began in 2011, when SKF approached the city with concerns about its septic system.

“In talking to state and county officials, and the city of Flowery Branch, the desired outcome was that SKF would connect to the city sewer system,” City Attorney Ron Bennett said.

City policy requires an annexation agreement before a sewer connection.

One of the hurdles for SKF was that a sewer connection “wasn’t quite as economically feasible as repairing the septic system,” he said.

“So, the parties got together a made a determination that if annexation can be delayed for six years to save on city taxes, business license fees and what not, there could be a negotiated tap fee rate (and) SKF would be willing to come into the city in six years,” Bennett said.

The city will make sewer available by June 30 and begin providing 8,600 gallons per day of sewer capacity upon SKF paying $47,300 in tap fees, according to a city document.

If SKF fails to apply for annexation by Sept. 30, 2017, “the city has SKF’s power of attorney to make
(the application) on SKF’s behalf,” a city document states.

“I feel that while they’re not annexing (immediately), they’ve already become a partner with the city in working with us to help them fulfill their needs in employing folks and help us ... in growing the city,” City Manager Bill Andrew said.

The agreement “was built upon let’s see about, in the long term, what makes the city get some income, helping you to manage your ambitions of growing, and what helps my ambitions of SKF growing and attracting more jobs,” said Jean Luc Gardelle, plant manager at SKF.

“We have a plan over the next two years to add 10 to 20 percent to our workforce,” he added. The plant employs 260 people, Gardelle said.

In other business, the council approved a three-month contract with Alpharetta-based Sophicity to provide information technology services. The cost is $3,000, while a year’s contract would cost nearly $18,000. Flowery Branch currently spends about $3,000 to $4,000 a year on IT services.

“That will give us some time to determine what exactly our needs are,” Councilman Damon Gibbs said.

At the council’s April 5 meeting, finance director Jeremy Perry said the current servers have crashed at least three times since he took over finances for the city in March, causing in one instance more than a day of down time.

 “We obviously have needs,” Gibbs said Thursday night. “We have to make some changes.”

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