The Hope City Board convened a special meeting on the last day of March to look at revenues and expenses with an eye towards finding possible areas in which more funds coult be raised. The 2015 budget required reserve funds to balance in several categories and city hiring has been frozen for some time. City Manager Catherine Cook took to the podium in the audience to address the board directly and consulted power point reports. Among other things Cook noted the current city milage is 2.2 mills and could be raised up to 5 mills. Currently the 2.2 mills raises about $190,000 annually. 9-1-1 payments for dispatching and E 9-1-1 funds bring in $88,676. The board looked at occupational liceneses which brought in only $1,877 last year as well as building permits which brought in just over $2,000. Fine revenue was $212,169 with outstanding fines at $2,575,254. The swimming pool brought in just over $9,000 in income while the cost was budgeted at $39,708 before water fees were determined. Franchise fees were looked at. Hope’s are 3.5% for utilities and the city could charge up to 4.25%. Building service clean-up charges were $14,666 last year while only $410 of that was collected. That was primarily for cleaning overgrown lots in the city. It was noted Hope Water & Light transfer funds are $575,000. This amount has been raised twice in 25 years. Animal licenses and adoption fees have ranged from $2,651 to $7,349 over the past ten years. Also considered was the 1 cent city sales tax passed in 1987. This brought in $2,036,805 last year with the city’s share of turnback funds from the state and county bringing in about $700,000 more. The city could increase fines although this might also not bring in more funds from the folks who aren’t paying anyway. The 1 cent “tourism tax” on prepared food and hotel rooms brought in $225,000 last year. This is earmarked for expenses to bring in tourists although some of the funds can be and are used for parks & recreation costs.
The board compared fees with several other cities about our size. These included Arkadelphia, Magnolia, Centerton, Clarksville, Stuttgart, Greenwood, Siloam Springs, Helena-West Helena, Batesville, and Magnolia.
No decisions were made but the board did discuss a variety of options with an eye towards revisiting the topic in the future.