Tomorrow night, Fayetteville City Council will be voting on referring an amended ordinance to the voters at a special election, possibly in March. The amended ordinance (No.3900) would allow the use of the Parks Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Tax (HMR) to be used for the maintenance of City Parks. Tonight’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) had a lively discussion about it. We all approve of the flexibility the amended ordinance would give the Parks Department in using the funds for needed maintenance. Fayetteville has been very good in building more parks and trails and Fayetteville has the best parks and trails in NWA. The added trails and parks have placed a burden on the Park’s maintenance budget and the amended ordinance would help.
There is a flaw in the proposed amended ordinance. Members of PRAB were concerned that it would be possible for the City Council to eliminate Park maintenance from the General Budget and have all of the Park’s Maintenance money come from the HMR. The City Council would do it to help with balancing the General Budget, particularly attractive if that budget was say 2 million dollars in the red. Theoretically the Parks budget could lose over a million dollars and the citizens of Fayetteville would lose the ability to develop and construct current or more parks.
I’m sure the current City Council members would say they wouldn’t do that but there will come a time when a City Council would do it. That’s just the “nature of the beast”. It’s just too big of a temptation to take the money from the Parks budget to keep other General Budget items in the black. I’d like to see some limitations on the ability of the City Council to reduce or eliminate the Park’s Maintenance item from the General Budget. If you are a Fayetteville resident please contact your Alderman or come to the City Council meeting tomorrow, 6:00 PM, City Hall, if this is something that would concern you.