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Still no property taxes planned in Lula
Citys 2015 budget plan has more money for parks, other needs
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Lula public hearings

What: Area residents can comment on Lula’s 2014-15 budget.

When: 8 a.m., noon and 5:30 p.m. June 16. Budget approval will follow the last hearing.

Where: City Hall, 6055 Main St.

Contact: 770-869-3801

Lula is rolling out a proposed $808,150 budget for next fiscal year that continues to keep property taxes out of the equation.

Instead, the city on the Hall-Banks County line is leaning on a variety of other revenue sources — particularly local option sales taxes, at $276,000 — to make ends meet.

“We’ve been pretty conservative in how we do budgets through the years, so this year’s budget is not any more difficult than in years past,” City Manager Dennis Bergin said Friday.

But this year, thanks to an improving economy, the city has more money in its coffers. Last year’s budget was $124,000, or about 20 percent, less.

The city hopes to use the extra cash to help catch up on equipment maintenance, Bergin said.

Also, Lula is looking to spend more for park improvements.

“Basically, up to this point, we’ve been doing maintenance (on the parks), for the most part,” Bergin said. “We’re accelerating some of those maintenance issues, as well as capital replacement (projects).”

The additional LOST funding has been a particular help.

“In the past, we weren’t given a fair percentage,” Bergin said. “Now, by using the 2010 census, it has allowed us to catch back up.”

In a LOST deal Hall County and its cities cut in October, Hall County saw its percentage of LOST revenue go down from 75.49 percent to 74.40 percent and Gainesville’s share also took a hit, falling to 17.38 percent from 19.87 percent.

The winners in the agreement were Hall’s smaller cities. Lula’s percentage went from 1.05 percent to 1.34 percent, adding about $83,331 a year.

The additional funding certainly benefits the town’s residents.

City Council directed Bergin to draw up a budget that avoids having to levy property taxes, based on “the continued success” of LOST and special purpose local option sales tax revenue.

“The design of the law (enabling LOST) was to reduce property taxes,” Bergin said. “We actually do set a (tax) rate, but the council has chosen to direct me for the 11th year to make the rate zero. So, good for them.”

The council is slated to discuss the budget at its work session Monday night and approve it June 16 after holding three public hearings at City Hall, 6055 Main St. The new budget year starts July 1.