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Posted: Thursday, June 12th 2014 at 9:01pm

First Flowery Branch tax increase hearing draws little attention

By Marc Eggers Staff
EMAIL STORY CONTACT EDITOR PRINT
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Chris Hartnett
FLOWERY BRANCH – After nine consecutive years of no increase in the millage rate, one would think that the announcement of a 17.62% increase in that rate for the new budget would garner a lot of response from the citizenry.

Not so…at least not for the first of three public hearings scheduled in the south Hall County municipality.

When asked if he was surprised that only one person signed up to comment on the proposed budget, City Manager Bill Andrew said, "We were surprised. We expected more people to want to come talk to the staff. Certainly, my door is open."

"If people want to come see myself or the Finance Director (Jeremy Perry) and have a discussion about concerns about the budget, we’d love to have them (come)," Andrew said.

To view the budget click here.

Chris Hartnett of Sterling on The Lake was the lone citizen to step to the podium and share his thoughts. "I’m totally against this increase we have. We’ve got more tax payers coming on; you’ve had this unexpected increase from the census and these state funds; you’ve had business that is increasing here," Hartnett said, referring to new tax revenue sources becoming a part of the city’s economy.

"I’m surprised there’s not a lot more people at this meeting here," Hartnett added. "I think the other citizens around here need to speak up and look closer at all these areas of the budget."

Two more public hearings are scheduled and the public is invited:
~Thursday, June 19 at 8 a.m.
~Thursday, June 16 at 6 p.m.
The above meetings will be at the Flowery Branch City Hall.

The budget for the 2015 fiscal year represents an increase of 18.64%, rising from $2.86 million in the year ending June 30th to $3.46 million for the year starting July 1st.

To provide for that larger dollar amount, the property tax millage rate goes from the nine-year standard of 2.837 mils to 3.337 mils in 2015.

To illustrate that proposed tax increase, a home with a fair market value of $175,000 will pay approximately $35 more.

Andrew pointed out that the large amount of publicity surrounding the recent dramatic increases in lakefront property valuations, and the resultant increase in property taxes due on those increased values, has caused some misunderstanding in Flowery Branch.

Andrew said while it was true some agencies have not had to raise their millage rates very much because they are experiencing strong revenue increases from those lakefront properties, Flowery Branch does not have that luxury.

"We just don’t have that property in the city," Andrew explained. The only property in the City that sits on Lanier’s shoreline, Andrew added, is a park the City leases from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Associated Categories: Homepage, Business News, Local/State News, Politics

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