City looks to increase hundreds of fees

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The city of Jonesboro may soon increase hundreds of fees to add approximately $3.5 million to the yearly revenue.

The plan was introduced at the March city council meeting.

The departments that will see these increases are parks, engineering, streets, inspections, planning, and finance.

According to city Chief Operations Officer Ed Tanner, the fees have not been enhanced since 2009 and the privilege licenses to run a business was last increased in 1975.

"The needs are greater than the able to pay for so in a little way we're going to try to look at increasing some of our fees in order to pay for some of those needs and some of those things we want in our city," Tanner said.

To come up with the new fees, each department looked at comparable cities like Rogers, Bentonville, Fayetteville, and Conway.

Tanner said those cities raise their costs a lot more often than Jonesboro has.

"The mayor's prided our city quite well for not having to raise fees over those, I guess that's been 7, 8 years or so," Tanner said. "We take great pride that we haven't had to do that, but at some point, it just comes a matter of cost of doing business and a variety of other reasons of us having to look at revenue enhancement."

Tanner said each department compared their costs to those of comparable size, population, and amenities and went line-by-line to determine the new proposed fees.

Most of the $3.5 million would be used for stormwater management.

"Almost $2.8 million is just going to be for storm water," Tanner said. "All of the [revenue] other than [that $2.8 million] will go into the general fund and will go to whatever projects that are determined."

Tanner said city leaders have already come up with about $14 million worth of stormwater management projects they say need to be done.

If approved, the new fees would likely go into effect on July 1, except for the business license fees.

Those would change on Jan. 1, 2018.

"So if somebody comes in at the beginning of the year and buys a privilege license for the whole year we don't want to change that midstream, in the middle of the year," Tanner said.

The first of two public input meetings took place Thursday evening where residents got a chance to discuss their concerns with the increases.

According to one resident in attendance, he doesn't feel this proposal is the right thing to do with several residents in financial distress.

"The economy is bad, I don't care what anybody says," said Paul Hockel, who lives out in the county. "Yes, I understand that they need water control in Jonesboro, they need stuff done, but I don't think they ought to tax everybody the amount they are talking about. We are talking a tremendous amount of money by the time this thing is all done."

The second public hearing will be held April 13 at 5:30 p.m. in the Jonesboro Municipal Center.

Mayor Harold Perrin stated at the hearing that he would be willing to have more public hearings if needed so they can address everyone's questions and concerns.

The list of all proposed changes is attached below:

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