The Fayetteville City Council discussed raising salaries for seasonal and part-time workers during a budget work session Thursday night at City Hall.
A request for funding from the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival that was on the agenda was tabled until a later work session. Festival organizers have submitted a request for $15,000 from the city.
Should the council choose, the current budget includes funding to support community events that could be used for the request, according to a PowerPoint presentation given by the city's budget and evaluation director, Kelly Olivera.
The City Council is considering a proposed $248.25 million budget. The tax rate would remain at 49.95 cents per $100 property valuation.
Though no action was taken during the work session, the City Council discussed increasing starting salaries for all city positions to $15 an hour.
Olivera said there were 279 temporary and seasonal people employed by the city in eight positions that would be eligible for that amount of pay per hour.
Those eight positions include field supervisors, gym supervisors, lifeguards, lead lifeguards, water safety instructors, recreation assistants, recreation program assistants and score/timekeepers.
The cost to the city would be roughly $484,000 a year to beef up the salaries of those employees, according to Olivera.
Councilwoman Yvonne Kinston expressed concerns that those 18 years old and younger would be starting at $15 an hour while there are veteran employees who have been working for the city for years who just started making that wage amount.
Mayor Mitch Colvin said 18 years old is considered an adult. Younger people can have the same expenses as those who are older, such as paying for the cost of gas and living expenses. They are able to join the military, he said, and purchase firearms.
“I understand your point,” he told Kinston.
City Manager Doug Hewett warned the council not to run into age discrimination on this matter.
“We probably need to be very sensitive here that we don’t have any concerns about age discrimination,” he said. “As we reported last time, we had already made that change for our regular full- and part-time staff. As some of you indicated this, too, puts compression pressures on some of those other staff members … Just be very sensitive when discussing it.”
The council also discussed American Rescue Plan Act money. The city has plans for the initial $20 million allocation of American Rescue Plan Act money – projects that staff has proposed for the federal funding, Hewett said following the meeting.
One of those proposed projects is a community recreation center for the Douglas Byrd area and the Sherwood Park neighborhood.
“Council wanted to know if those should be funded by ARPA funds or funds from the traditional CIP process,” he said of the capital improvement program. “But ultimately, I think the main takeaway is that in next year’s budget there is funding proposed to help accelerate the development of a community recreation center in the Douglas Byrd school district and Sherwood Park area. They’re proposing to put a community recreation center in the Sherwood Park area of town.”
The final budget work session is scheduled for June 9, Hewett said, with hopefully the adoption of the proposed budget and a public hearing on the budget to follow on June 13.
He said the city has a plan for how to use the ARPA dollars to aid the community. “And we also did an analysis to show what it would take to raise all our positions, including seasonal part-time positions to $15 an hour."
Council members discussed a variety of items that are not included in the recommended budget and how to best fund those projects. These include an aquatic center, a multiple court basketball gym proposed by Councilman Larry Wright and youth mentoring programs proposed by Colvin.
As for the basketball gym, Hewett said, “What we’re proposing he do is bring it back to council to see about adding it to the parks and recreation master plan. And once added to the master plan, then we can evaluate it against all the other projects which are in the master plan and awaiting funding, too.”
Councilman D.J. Haire talked about wanting to expand bus shelters and benches that are available to the public. Council is expected to discuss that on June 9 at the final work session.
“We’ve got to adopt a balanced budget,” Hewett said, “so if something comes in, we’ve got to figure out how to raise additional revenue or what we’re going to do less of to be able to accommodate it. But that is absolutely the council’s choice.”
He said the council has already provided guidance on affordable housing, sidewalks, bike lanes, the pavement of city streets and transportation needs.
“This is just a natural process, too,” he said, “and it’s what the budget work session is designed to do.”
Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at email@example.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.