Fayetteville officials anticipate raising taxes to close 2025 budget gap

Monique John Image
Tuesday, May 14, 2024
Fayetteville officials anticipate raising taxes to close budget gap
Officials say a nearly $10 million budget gap forecasted last year is affecting the city -- and it could hit people's wallets, too.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Fayetteville's proposed budget for 2025 will be made public for the first time at Monday's city council meeting. Officials say a nearly $10 million budget gap forecasted last year is affecting the city -- and it could hit people's wallets, too.

The city said it expects it will raise taxes to make up for the $9.5 million budget gap it's dealing with for the 2025 fiscal year. The ad valorem tax rate is increasing by $.05, which is expected to generate about $13 million for pay increases for law enforcement, the fire department and emergency responders. Officials said that though residents may shell out more to the city, public amenities such as solid waste and fire service should stay the same.

"(A)ll of our city services will continue in appreciably the same format that they are currently. The emphasis that we've placed on public safety, the emphasis that we've placed on parks and recreation, and the emphasis that we placed on beautification of our city, still remain in the recommended budget," said Doug Hewett, the Fayetteville city manager.

The budget shortfall stems from Cumberland County's move last year away from a system that measures tax-based funding using population size. Now, it gives municipalities a share of county sales taxes. That means Fayetteville is losing some of the benefits of its economic growth as more people move to the area.

Officials say they're exploring any inefficiencies in their offices as they balance the budget but that they're not looking to cut staffing. Instead, they say they're working toward other solutions.

"We realize that city budgets have to grow as we demand more from our employees, who are also providing more services to our residents. And that means that we have to have additional revenue. So we're looking at diversifying our revenue streams as well as, again, in growing our economy so that we're not tax-burdening our residents," Hewett said.

City council has until June 30 to finalize the budget. Until then, officials say the city and the county are strategizing together on how to cut costs.

"The budget is always a very stressful process for the city and we understand that it has real impact on the citizens as well. But we believe we've struck a very careful balance between meeting the needs of our organization and of the city," Hewett said, "but also realizing that it is balanced with a tax rate increase."

The City of Fayetteville also invited residents to attend a series of budget work sessions beginning Thursday at 10 a.m. at City Hall.

The sessions will be held in Council Chambers at City Hall, 433 Hay St.

There will be a public hearing on May 28, at 6:30 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers to give people another opportunity to voice their opinions on how public money is allocated.

Residents who wish to speak at the public hearing can sign up on the City Clerk's website.

For more information, visit the city's budget website.