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Fayetteville City Council approves $216 million 2023 budget

The new budget adds 45 full-time city staff, two amendments to clean Lake Fayetteville, and funding for the Pick-Me-Up program.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The Fayetteville City Council unanimously approved a $216 million budget for 2023. It is a $25 million dollar increase from the 2022 budget.

Ward 4 Council Member Teresa Turk says the budget increase is due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Because of COVID we needed to be conservative about our growth, we didn't know what our revenue was going to look like," said Turk. "We've had very good positive growth in our taxes and, so now's the time to add those staff that we really needed.”

The city says the significant projected revenue increase will help add 45 full-time positions. This includes 13 new positions for the police department, and 12 for the fire department.

Furthermore, two amendments were added to the budget, including $500,000 from the sales tax capital fund to clean up Lake Fayetteville. "It's very important. This is the most heavily used park that we have in Fayetteville." Turk says that over the last few years, toxic algae blooms have caused concern about the lake's water quality. Last year, the city hired an engineering firm to conduct a study on the lake, which would provide recommendations by the summer of 2023 to improve the water quality.

"We wanted to make sure that there was no lapse, that we didn't just do a water quality study or clean up study, and sit it on the shelf," said Turk. "We wanted to make sure that we could implement some of those recommendations immediately after the report was finished."

Wes Oliver is the president of the Rowing Club of Northwest Arkansas. His 15 junior rowers and 20 master rowers use the lake exclusively for their club.

"It's nice to see that it will be moving forward without pause or interruption," said Oliver. "When you're teaching new people how to row, sometimes boats flip and you get in there, and I've had that happened to me where I was out teaching someone, and we went in and you get back to the dock as fast as you can, and then you rinse off with the hose."

Turk expressed that this was just the beginning of cleaning the lake. She explained that the surrounding area could help keep the watershed's sources clean. "Having that water quality where you're not afraid of getting into the water because it may be toxic or your pet may become ill or die, I think is really important to Fayetteville, and its reputation as being a healthy clean city."

Fayetteville's Pick-Me-Up Program is also getting more funding. Turk explained that the program follows the success of similar programs in Albuquerque and Little Rock.

With Tuesday night's council approval, they're funding an extra $20,000, bringing the overall total for the program to $100,000. The program pays unsheltered residents three days a week to go and pick up trash and started this summer.

"They have collected a huge amount of trash, and I ride the trails at least once a week, and I have seen a tremendous difference," said Turk.

RELATED: Harmful algae found at Lake Fayetteville, residents asked to use caution

RELATED: Arkansas reports 14 total flu deaths this season

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