City compromise on sales tax isn’t expected

Posted on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at 2:54 pm

LUCY WILLIAMS

editor & publisher

 

Barring the unexpected, the Fayetteville Board of Mayor and Aldermen will not agree to a compromise in its decision to stop sharing one and one-half percent of its sales tax revenues with the county come July 1.

“I don’t hear anyone wanting to put this on the agenda again,” said City Mayor John Ed Underwood at the end of discussion during Thursday’s City Board work session of the Lincoln County Commission’s request that the city either delay or at least compromise on the issue.

There was no response to Underwood’s comment, so the board moved on to other discussion.

Had any of the City Board’s members been interested in a compromise, it would have been the proper time to ask that it be placed on the agenda of their regular session to be held Tuesday of this week.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen had voted in January to not renew one of the two sales tax agreements it has with Lincoln County. Consequently, that agreement will expire come June 30, causing the county to lose approximately $640,000 in revenues from the shared city sales tax. That amount ranges up and down each year, depending on the economy and retail sales.

“I didn’t feel like we learned a lot,” said Underwood, opening discussion on the subject earlier in the meeting, referring to a March meeting of both city and county budget committees, during which the county made its case and asked for either the delay or a compromise. “I don’t think they realize it’s our money and that we shouldn’t have gotten into it with them.”

“We listened,” said Alderman Danny Bryant. “I’m glad they asked for the meeting.”

Officials went on to refer to what prompted one of the sales tax agreements — construction of the Lincoln County Courthouse, for which bonds were paid off in 1991, they said.

“All those agreements have benefited the county greatly over the years,” Bryant said, estimating their value over the years at $15 million and going on to say that the city is looking at the possibility of needing two fire trucks, which could cost over a million dollars, as well as street and sidewalk repairs, and a new city police building.

“As long as we use city taxpayer money, I think it’s time for us to have some benefit from those funds,” he continued. “We have a responsibility to our taxpayers … We also need a new police station, and I don’t feel bad about that at all … To me, it’s a fair way to do it.”

In other discussion, the City Board agreed to place on its agenda a request from its recreation committee to increase a Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation grant application from $80,000 to $140,000. The additional funds, if secured, would be used to create a dog park at the Don Davidson Complex on Wilson Parkway and repair restroom facilities at Kiwanis Park just off Thornton Taylor Parkway. The application would require a 50-percent match from the city; those funds would come from bond proceeds formerly earmarked for the city pool project, which is expected to be completed under budget.

Construction of the pool is advancing a head of schedule. Officials were told during the work session that it is expected to open the last weekend in May. The new pool is already being filled with water, said Rickey Honey, director of recreation.

Additionally, the board agreed to place on its agenda a request to fund half the cost of replacing the roof covering the office portion of the recycling center – that half amounts to $7,436. The other half of the cost will be requested of Lincoln County by Keep Fayetteville/Lincoln County Beautiful, which operates the center.

Officials also were briefed by Patrick Lile, a certified public accountant with Winnett Associates, PLLC, out of Shelbyville, on its annual audit of the City of Fayetteville. The 100-page document, highlighted by Lile during the work session, made no significant findings, he said, adding that the city’s books are in good shape. The audit also included the Fayetteville City School System and Fayetteville Public Utilities.

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