FLOWERY BRANCH -- The Flowery Branch City Council voted Thursday night to approve their budget for the 2018 fiscal year and to maintain last year's millage rate despite some increased property values.
The council approved both with 3-2 votes, with councilmen Joe Anglin and Christopher Mundy voting against each of the measures. The millage rate of 3.264 will represent a tax increase for some city property owners, after recent assessments increased the value of several properties, including one apartment building whose value was almost doubled. The city had rolled back the millage rate a year ago, and Anglin said he thought the city could afford to do it again.
"Year over year we've had surpluses, and I'm not just talking about $50,000, It's been hundreds of thousands, 500, 600 thousand dollars," Anglin said. "Revenues are coming in stronger than we expect when we make these budgets, and because of that I feel like that $50,000 (of additional tax revenue from the increased property values)...is not warranted."
The council rolled back the rate from fiscal year 2016 to 2017 by .073 mills down to the 3.264 rate which it will now remain at. Councilman Fred Richards, who voted for the flat rate, said he felt keeping the rate flat, even if it means some tax increases, could protect citizens from a sudden millage rate hike in future years.
"I support a consistent millage rate. I want to do the same millage rate next year and the year after and the year after, bad economy, good economy," Richards said. "I don't want to hit somebody when they're down. We're doing our jobs when the city continues to grow and values increase."
Richards pointed out that the millage rate had only increased once in the past decade. Anglin said he like much of what was in the 2018 budget, saying he only voted against it because of the increased millage rate.
"There's things I like about this budget...the things that have been added to it, I have no issue with, but I do have an issue that we're adding $50,000, increasing that tax from the citizens," Anglin said.
The budget sees both expenses and revenues decrease by just over $74,000 from the previous year, with the city adding raises to some city employees, as well as adding another police department vehicle.
Councilman Fred Richards and Councilwoman Mary Jones voted for the millage rate and the budget along with Councilwoman Monica Beatty, who was not able to be at the meeting physically but joined the meeting via telephone to comment and cast her vote.