Fayetteville City Hall. Melissa Sue Gerrits / Carolina Public Press

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Fayetteville released its proposed budget Monday and showcased details of the city’s financial plans for fiscal year 2023.

City Manager Doug Hewett, who presented the budget proposal to the council, said the functioning of the city and the staff depends on the budget.

“To say that this powers our organization is a real understatement,” he said.

The proposed budget that Hewitt shared with council members during Monday evening’s meeting is preliminary. They may make some changes before approving it next month.

The City Council will conduct meetings at the council chambers over the next few weeks to discuss and finalize the budget, including Thursday at 5 p.m.

Two additional budget meetings will take place June 2 and 9.

A public hearing, where residents can voice their views on the budget, will be at 7 p.m. June 13 at the council chambers during the City Council’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Hewett said the council will vote on the budget after that hearing.

Residents can view the budget online on the city’s website.

How the budget is funded

The current proposed budget includes no increases in taxes or fees, which are the primary funding sources, Hewitt said.

“There’s no property tax increase, and there’s no fee increase for solid waste, stormwater or for transit,” he said.

If council members approve the proposed budget, the property tax rate will remain at 49.95 cents per $100 of property evaluation.

Property taxes are calculated by dividing the value of the home or property by 100 and then multiplying by the 49.95 cent rate.

While the proposed budget avoids increasing property taxes, bond proposals are on the ballot for November’s election that would increase the tax rate for fiscal year 2024, Carolina Public Press previously reported.

Property taxes will make up the largest portion of the city’s funding at 29%. Sales taxes are next at 24%, and stormwater, solid waste and other fees are at 22%.

The city had previously considered increasing solid waste fees, Carolina Public Press reported in February.

Overall, the proposed city budget is set at $248,258,980, a 3.3% increase from last year.

While the property tax rate is proposed to remain the same, the total taxable property funds will increase by 1.25% compared with last year. This is due to property values increasing in the area, in line with a national trend.

According to Longleaf Pine Realtors, the median sales price for an existing single-family home in Fayetteville, as of April, has increased by 13.2% over the last year.

Where the city wants to focus new budget

Hewett focused on six areas for the budget during his presentation — public safety, business, infrastructure, community amenities, employee pay increases and other various expenditures such as the arts and museums.

The public safety portion was centered on needs for the Fire Department such as vehicle and equipment replacement.

Business expenses include funding for the Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corp. along with the management of arts and entertainment districts.

There’s also funding for various infrastructure projects, including those for stormwater and broadband installation.

For the city’s New Year’s and 2023 Juneteenth celebrations, Fayetteville will spend $165,000 and $145,000, respectively, according to the proposed budget.

As part of the city’s partnership with Cumberland County, $100,000 would be spent on assisting people who are homeless within Fayetteville.

There are also cost increases associated with pay for city employees, including $6.6 million for a 4% merit pay increase. There are also required cost increases for medical and pension benefits for employees, $708,000 and $513,000, respectively.

Within the proposed budget, there’s also funding for the Fascinate-U Children’s Museum, the Airborne and Special Operations Museum and $75,000 for the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County to partner with community art programs.

Ben Sessoms

Ben Sessoms is a Carolina Public Press staff writer based in Fayetteville. Send an email to bsessoms@carolinapublicpress.org to contact him.

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