City looks to renew basic 1-percent sales tax
By Richard Davis
TFW Staff Writer
The loss of up to 150 city employees, closed fire stations and the inability for Fayetteville to resurface roads or make drainage improvements. That’s just part of the apocalyptic vision painted by Paul Becker, Fayetteville finance director, if residents voted not to continue the city’s 1-percent sales tax.
The longtime ongoing sales tax isn’t set to expire until June 30, 2013, so there’s plenty of time before any doomsday scenario would arrive. But Becker said he wants to get the Fayetteville’s continuation out there early to avoid having to compete with any other entities lobbying for tax issues and to have time to plan if a worst-case scenario came to pass.
At the council meeting Tuesday, Becker said the loss of the sales tax would lop $9.2 million off the city’s general fund resulting in the loss of up to 150 city employees, the majority of who work in fire, police and safety positions. He said the loss would even likely even result in the closing of fire stations.
Furthermore, Becker said the loss of the sales tax would lead to $6.2 million in cuts to sidewalk improvements, road resurfacing, replacing traffic signals, trail developments, drainage improvements and more.
Everyone at the meeting stressed the sales tax would be the continuation — I mean STRESSED “continuation,” “rededication,” “a tax that’s already there” — of a policy that Fayetteville voters approved by 67 percent the last time the issue came up.
Even Alderman Bobby Ferrell, normally the last guy in the room who’d throw support behind a tax issue, put his seal of approval on continuing the 1-percent sales tax, noting this revenue stream keeps Fayetteville’s basic services going. If approved by Fayetteville voters, the sales tax would be extended to 2023.
The council approved 7-0 to sending the extension to Fayetteville voters in a special election. Alderman Matthew Petty was not present.