F’ville set to adopt $9.4M budget Thursday; tax rate still uncertain

It will be a full agenda July 21 when the Fayetteville City Council is expected to adopt a $9.41 million Fiscal Year 2012 budget and decide on an ordinance requiring new criteria relating to the sale of precious metals.

The council is also expected to vote on a measure that would allow incentives on development by reducing, waiving or negotiating the payment of impact fees and sewer proportionate fees.

The council will hear the second reading and likely adopt the FY 2012 General Fund budget that totals $9.41 million. That figure represents a decrease of $169,000 over the current year and will continue the city’s longtime hiring freeze.

The budget also anticipates a 6 percent decrease in the local tax digest and a slight increase in sales tax revenues.

On the revenue side, the largest slice of the pie is sales taxes at 23 percent followed by property taxes at 22 percent, business taxes at 16 percent and fines and forfeitures and franchise fees at 14 percent each.

The largest portion of the expenditures side of the budget is public safety at 67 percent followed by public works at 10 percent, general government at 10 percent, judicial at 7 percent and housing and development at 5 percent.

Projections on the expenditure side show a need to continue the years-long hiring freeze, and allow for a potential one-time employee incentive, $5,900 for elections, a one percent increase in operations and maintenance and a $47,000 increase in E911 services.

The number of city employees on the payroll continues to decrease. Full-time equivalent positions in 2008 totaled 163 compared to the 136 positions requested for 2012, a difference of 17 percent.

The council will also discuss a millage rate roll-up to offset declining revenues. No vote will be taken pending updated tax digest figures and public hearings.

The City Council will also hear the second reading of an ordinance that would tighten restrictions on businesses that buy precious metals. The proposed ordinance would require a digital photo and thumbprint of the seller and a 30-day waiting period before the buyer can dispose of the merchandise. Peachtree City has similar measures already in place.

Fayetteville Police Chief Steve Heaton at the June 16 council meeting said the city had approximately 4,500 precious metals transactions from five locations in the last year. Those transactions amounted to approximately $750,000 being paid out to sellers, Heaton said.

Heaton said the ordinance would also require that the digital information obtained at the time of the sale be stored on the LeadsOnline database. LeadsOnline is a national online investigation service. The Fayetteville ordinance also has a $1 fee for each transaction to offset the $2,800 annual fee for the LeadsOnline service.

The council July 21 will hear the second reading of a measure intended to help attract development projects and bring them to fruition. The council on June 16 heard the first reading of two ordinance revisions that would reduce or waive sewer proportionate fees or impact fees or establish payment plans for economic development activities that would benefit the city.

City Assistant Director of Finance and Administrative Services Ellen Walls said the proposed amendment to the Impact Fee Ordinance and Sewer Proportionate Share Fee Ordinance was being requested in an effort of helping stimulate economic development within the city.

Citing an example of how the amendments would work, Walls described a developer permitted to extend the city’s sewer system which would benefit more than one property owner. In consideration for the cost of the extension, the sewer proportionate share fees may be reduced or waived, she explained.

The amendment would also allow for the arrangement of payment plans as needed, Walls added.