FAYETTEVILLE -- A projected increase in sales-tax revenue from internet sales and a higher population will enable the Fayetteville city administration to hire for several new positions it has sought for years, the City Council heard Tuesday.
Paul Becker, the city's chief financial officer, went over the general fund budget, which includes most of the city's personnel and operations costs. The primary source of revenue for the fund is sales tax.
Becker projected a more than $5 million increase in sales tax revenue next year over this year's budget. This year's budgeted sales tax revenue was nearly $29.6 million, while next year's budgeted revenue amount was more than $34.7 million.
The overall general fund budget was proposed at $55.2 million, about $6 million more than this year's $49.2 million budget. Personnel costs accounted for about 81% of the total budget at nearly $44.8 million. Becker proposed adding about $4.4 million in personnel expenditures next year. The dollar amount would bring about 16 new full-time-equivalent positions to the city, or 18 new people.
"We now feel we have the continuing additional revenue to support the addition of these new positions based on the increases in sales tax last year and projections for this year," Becker said Wednesday. "I do not feel that this is an anomaly, but feel that this level of sales taxes will continue due to internet sales and the increased population in Fayetteville demonstrated by the recent census."
Becker projected the city will end the year with just more than $34 million in sales-tax revenue.
Among new positions, the city is proposing to add a director of arts and culture; two police patrol officers; two trail safety officers; three firefighters; a 911 dispatcher; an administrative assistant for the fire marshal's office; two soft-surface trails maintenance employees; two part-time recreation programs assistants; a customer and information records specialist in the city clerk's office; a custodian; a public works project inspector; and a residential plan reviewer in building safety.
Sloan Scroggin, a council member, has long advocated for the city to add trails safety officers to the budget. He said he's gotten lots of feedback from constituents saying they don't feel safe on the trails.
"I think one of the biggest gems in this city is the trail system," Scroggin said Wednesday. "However, it only stays a gem if people feel safe to be on it, so this is a good start to getting us there."
Scroggin also said he was glad to see the city can add new positions without raising property taxes. The City Council will take up the property tax levy Tuesday with no changes proposed. Property taxes are projected to bring in nearly $4.5 million next year, making up about 6% of the general fund's total revenue.
Sarah Marsh, a former council member, asked the city to include an arts and culture director position in the budget in 2019. She said the position will be crucial in coordinating the success of the planned arts corridor downtown and maximizing the city's potential as a creative hub and arts and culture destination.
Becker proposed a balanced general fund budget Tuesday. However, anticipated raises for city employees next year could cost about $1.2 million and would likely need to come out of reserve money, he said. Becker projected the city would have more than $11.8 million in reserve available at the end of the year.
The council is scheduled to hold its overall budget discussion Nov. 13.