At Thursday’s meeting of the Ball Ground City Council, the council will consider changes to its water rate fee schedule and amendments to the city’s alcohol ordinance.

The Ball Ground City Council is set to adopt its annual budget Thursday, as well as consider changes to the city’s alcohol ordinance and water rate schedule.

The council gave initial approval last month for a $4.7 million budget, the largest in Ball Ground’s history, according to Mayor Rick Roberts. They will hold a public hearing before voting to finalize the budget Thursday.

The proposed budget includes about $1.4 million in the general fund, $393,000 in the fire district fund, $582,000 in the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax fund, $2 million in the water and sewer fund, $42,000 in the stormwater fund and $262,000 in the solid waste fund, according to city officials.

The public hearing and vote were postponed by a week to Thursday.

Several changes are being proposed to the city’s alcohol ordinance, City Manager Wilmarth said. One of the biggest amendments under consideration is allowing businesses that want to open in new buildings in Ball Ground to apply for an alcohol license before construction is finished. Currently, businesses wanting to obtain an alcohol license must have their building completed and ready to occupy before applying for the alcohol license. Under the proposed amendment, they would have to begin construction on their building within a certain time period or the license would be rendered invalid.

Other changes include clarifying how to measure distances between businesses and locations like churches and schools, measuring by the most common route of travel between the locations, rather than measuring directly between property lines.

Another proposed amendment updates city code to match newer state alcohol laws, including one signed by Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this month which allows restaurants to sell curbside takeaway alcoholic beverages with to-go food orders. However, cities and counties can opt out of these state alcohol to-go laws.

“It will allow everything the state allows,” Wilmarth said.

The water rate schedule changes would more heavily affect commercial and industrial buildings throughout the city rather than residents and their homes, Wilmarth said. There is a proposed rate increase in the base rate for two-inch water meters from $19 a month to $50 a month, as well as adding a new tier to the rate structure for locations using more than 20,000 gallons of water per month.

“There’s not a single residence in the city that is on a two-inch water meter,” Wilmarth said.

In addition, the average family only uses about 4,500 gallons of water a month, and thus neither change would have any real impact on residents, Wilmarth said. The only change under consideration that could affect Ball Ground residents would be establishing a multi-connection rate, where the rate is established by the number of connections to the water system, which would affect multi-family residential communities like the Abbington Ridge apartment complex.

Lastly, after more than a year of holding meetings virtually, Wilmarth said the council chambers would be open to the public during Thursday night’s meeting. Seating in the council chambers would still be spread out more than what is typically seen at council meetings. The city council meets at 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 215 Valley St. in Ball Ground.

For those who may still wish to view the meeting remotely, it will be streamed live on the City of Ball Ground channel on YouTube at bit.ly/3ops00J.

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