At another marathon Fayetteville City Council meeting, City Manager Ted Voorhees suggested another property-tax increase may be needed to meet mounting capital improvements.
Council agreed to move forward with plans to change their terms of office. In an 8-2 vote, council agreed to schedule a referendum in November asking residents to approve staggered four-year terms of office for the mayor and council. They currently serve two-year terms.
Members also heard a presentation on the prospect of a minor league baseball stadium near downtown. It was the second time in a month that the city’s governing body spent more than six hours going over an agenda full of housekeeping chores and major projects. They consumed more time than some council members liked. Councilman Ted Mohn scolded his colleagues for not managing their time better by being more disciplined.
Council talked for two hours about a five-year capital improvement plan that Voorhees introduced. It was one of those ‘darned if you do, darned if you don’t’ episodes for the administration. Voorhees brought the plan forward because council members had insisted a few weeks ago that they wanted earlier exposure to fiscal budget recommendations. Come spring the city will begin annual preparations for adoption of operating and capital budgets for the fiscal year beginning July 1st. As soon as Voorhees mentioned the need for another penny on the dollar tax increase, councilman Jim Arp accused the manager of “poor timing.” He noted a bond referendum for parks and recreation improvements is up for a vote next month. Passage would result in a $1.35 tax rate bump. Arp said discussion of an additional tax increase was “premature” and recommended tabling the capital improvement plan. His colleagues overruled him, and members agreed to allow Budget Director Tracy Broyles to continue with her presentation.
Voorhees insisted he was “not trying to bamboozle” Council; that they have to be aware of the needs. Voorhees said the additional penny on the tax rate is primarily for public safety. A new fire station on Hope Mills Road is a pressing need to replace aging Fire Station #12. A new fire station #16 on Cedar Creek Road and relocation of Fire Station #4 are also part of the five-year plan. A consolidated city/county 911 communications center is also on the drawing board. Council flagged numerous items in the plan for further discussion at this month’s annual strategic planning retreat.
Dan Barrett of the Barrett Sports Group briefed council on what to expect as consultants continue to explore the feasibility of a minor league baseball stadium. Consultants are being paid $130,000 to determine interest in the sport. Deputy City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney says professional baseball has indicated a “very high interest” in locating a minor league team in Fayetteville. The consultants say they’ll determine if it’s financially feasible and affordable for the city to enter into a public-private partnership to build and operate a stadium. The six-and-a-half hour meeting ended at 11:30 p.m.