F’ville to vote on budget and pawn shop locations

The Fayetteville City Council will take up an unusually large number of issues at the July 15 meeting. Front and center on the agenda will be second readings and likely adoption of the Fiscal Year 2011 budget that takes effect Aug. 1, an ordinance amendment that would limit pawn shops to industrial-zoned areas and another that would help attract businesses to the downtown area.

The council on Thursday will consider that proposed $9.7 million general fund budget that represents a decrease of 4.6 percent over the current $10.12 million budget.

The hiring freeze, implemented several years ago, will continue, with the loss of four more positions through attrition. And again next year, the budget proposal calls for no increase in employee benefits.

Finance Director Lynn Robinson said city sales tax, building-related fees and property tax revenues continue to be impacted by the recession. Local Options Sales Tax (LOST) revenues were down 9.88 percent for calendar year 2009, but showed some recovery in the first four months of 2010, she said. Robinson is projecting a 7.44 percent increase in LOST revenues for FY 2011.

Property taxes have also hit the skids. Decreasing tax digest figures showed a minus 0.78 percent decrease in FY 2010, with a projected minus 8.89 percent decrease for FY 2011.

Robinson said water and sewer revenues continue to be impacted by the economy, conservation and weather conditions. Impact fees and sewer proportionate fees are also being negatively impacted, she said.

Budget reduction measures previously implemented include a citywide hiring freeze, the reorganization or realignment of several city departments, no payment for annual leave, a reduction in future salary increases, voluntary reduction in salaries and reduced work hours and increased benefit costs to employees.

The council July 15 will also likely vote on an ordinance amendment that would limit pawn shops to industrial-zoned areas of the city. The amendment would have those businesses located in the M-1 (Light Industrial) and M-2 (Heavy Industrial) zoning districts. Pawn shops are currently allowed in C-3 (Highway Commercial) districts.

Senior Planner Linwood Robinson said that while there are currently no pawn shops operating in the city, there have been several recent inquiries.

Robinson said that, as a housekeeping matter and an attempt to make sure pawn shops approved for operation in Fayetteville are placed in appropriate zoning classifications, city staff, the city attorney and Planning & Zoning Commission have conducted research on community impact and which zoning district is best suited for the placement of pawn shops.

Also at the meeting, the council will hear the second reading of a proposed ordinance amendment that would exempt impact fees and sewer proportionate fees for historic commercial properties around the Courthouse Square. The measure is aimed at the continuing effort to attract restaurants to the downtown area.

 Main Street Director Brian Wismer said the idea behind the proposal is to create incentives that will encourage restaurant uses in historic commercial properties in the downtown square. An increased presence of restaurants will, in turn, boost the local economy, create additional income for the city, and further the city’s goal to create a more active and lively downtown area, Wismer said.

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