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Transfer will cover Flowery Branch's budget shortfall
$71,697 moved from current budget to make up difference with 2007-08 budget
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FLOWERY BRANCH — Flowery Branch City Council voted Wednesday to transfer $71,697 from this year’s budget to cover a shortfall in the 2007-08 budget.

City Manager Bill Andrew told the council he feared he would have to recommend the city move more money because of several unexpected hikes in expenses, including insurance and fuel costs, during the past budget year, which ended June 30.

"We’re actually quite pleased with this amount," Andrew said.

The shortfall was discovered after an audit of last year’s budget.

Andrew said, "Honestly, I keep feeling like I’m on this ship, and it’s really foggy out there, and there are these icebergs coming out of nowhere, and we keep dodging them.

"I keep looking at Gainesville and Hall County (governments) and thinking when is the (unpaid employee) furlough going to happen, but we really are keeping things fairly tight here."

As far as fiscal impact, "in addition to the $695,000 currently reserved ... and locked up (as a 90-day emergency cash supply), we’ll still have an $88,000 fund balance (in this year’s budget)," Andrew said.

The $695,000 is a recommended amount "generally given to cities based on their budgets," he added.

In the current fiscal year, the city is budgeting for a 4 to 5 percent loss in property taxes, if current economic trends continue, Andrew told the council.

The 2008-09 budget year will run until June 30.

In other business, the council rejected an ordinance that would have required all city residents to sign up for garbage service or face a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail.

The city has about 80 residents who aren’t signed up for the service, which costs $12 per month and is contracted citywide to Red Oak Sanitation.

"A service seems like it would be optional," said Councilman Craig Lutz. "If it’s not optional, then it’s not a service."

Also, "this looks like we are wrapping this up as a health and safety issue and a beauty issue, when we have an ordinance today that takes care of that," he added, referring to a city nuisance and abatement law.

Residents should be allowed, if they choose, to take their trash to a Hall County compactor site, which they are paying for through county taxes.

"To some extent, this is double taxation, except for it’s not a tax, it’s a service that we’re basically saying you have to take, almost by gunpoint," Lutz said.

Councilman Allen Bryans Sr. made the motion to approve the ordinance, but the ordinance failed to pass because it didn’t draw a second from other council members.

Also, the council put off voting on annexation and rezoning proposals that would allow for some 200 additional homes at the Sterling on the Lake subdivision on Spout Springs Road, so that some legal issues can be resolved.

The council is set to revisit the matter, for a final vote, at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

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