Mayor Lioneld Jordan’s first Town Hall Meeting of the year was held Monday night at the Fayetteville Senior Activity and Wellness Center in south Fayetteville.
About 50 people attended the event to hear Mayor Jordan and various department directors discuss what’s been happening in the city over the past few months.
Before turning the meeting over to his staff, Jordan mentioned a few items he was excited about recently including the City Council’s recent passing of the city budget, a 5.4 percent increase in city sales tax revenue and a 6.7 percent increase in HMR tax revenue on the year.
Paul Becker – Finance Director
Finance director Paul Becker said that for the first time in several years, the city ended 2011 with a surplus in the general fund. Becker said a reduction of expenditures and an increase in sales tax were responsible for the good news. “Hopefully, that will be an indicator for the future,” he said.
Becker said that the recently passed budget calls for a salary increase for city workers – the first since 2009. “As we looked at the December sales tax numbers, which is period one of the 2012 budget, we saw a 2.25 percent increase in sales tax,” he said. “We felt that there was a more than reasonable expectation that that would continue through the year.” Based on that, Becker said the Mayor felt comfortable proposing raises for city employees. The City Council last week voted unanimously to adopt the salary increase plan.
David Jurgens – Utilities Director
Utilities director David Jurgens discussed the status of the planned downtown parking deck. With funding now in place, Jurgens said the city has selected an engineering firm to begin preliminary designs and a geotechnical analysis of several potential locations.
Jurgens said a site selection recommendation will be ready for City Council approval in June or July. Once a decision is made on where to build the deck, bonds will be issued and construction could begin by March 2013. The project, Jurgens said, is expected to take between 12 and 16 months to complete.
Chris Brown – City Engineer
City Engineer Chris Brown went over various street and trail projects that are either underway or that are set to begin construction this year.
Current projects include widenings of Crossover, Cato Springs, and Huntsville roads, as well as construction of Meadow Valley Trail which will connect residents in west Fayetteville near Porter Road to Scull Creek Trail.
Upcoming projects include the city’s first roundabout, which will be located in front of Washington Regional Medical Center; the 71-B flyover, which will allow vehicles driving north on College Avenue to access the Fulbright Expressway without having to make a U-turn at Joyce Boulevard; and a Frisco Trail extension which will connect the city’s trail system to Walker Park.
Connie Edmonston – Parks & Recreation Director
Parks and Recreation director Connie Edmonston discussed a handful of updates to the city’s parks and trail systems including new trailhead markers and maps which were recently added to the Mt. Sequoyah Woods Trail, enhancements to the Walker Park baseball field facilities and a possible RC car facility at Walker Park where the BMX track used to sit.
Sue Butler – Life Safety Education Specialist
Fire chief David Dayringer introduced Sue Butler, the city’s safety eduction specialist, who urged those in attendance to subscribe to the city’s emergency alert updates, either through email or text message.
About a half dozen residents spoke once the meeting was opened to public comment. Topics addressed included concern regarding an ordinance the City Council is considering that would allow up to five people to live together in certain new developments, the need for more room at the Senior Center, and a desire to have expanded hours at the Wilson Park swimming pool.