City Council takes next step to purchase water system
The Bella Vista City Council discussed purchasing a portion of Centerton’s water system, located primarily in the area around Arkansas Highway 279, near Bella Vista’s border with Gravette, during Monday night’s regular meeting.
The council unanimously approved a purchase price of $243,855.49 for this 1,312-acres of water distribution area, subject to regulatory approvals and other legal requirements.
“This is not a guarantee that we are going to buy it,” Mayor Peter Christie said. “This is letting us go into the next step.”
There’s a great deal more that needs to happen, he said, before the city can proceed, including hearings.
Additionally, he said at the Monday, March 20, work session that he’d like additional documentation about this system from Centerton before proceeding.
Larry Wilms, former head of the POA Water Department, has
worked with the city as a water consultant and provided assistance for this process.
Centerton Water and Sewer Department, he said, met the previous week and sent some documentation to Bella Vista.
The value, he said, needs to be approved by the lender, but he believes it is a fair value.
“It started out as a value from the original when it was installed, discounted because of age,” he said.
Alderman Jim Wozniak said he wasn’t sure if there is enough of a customer base on this water system for it to cover its own costs.
With a section this small, Wilms said, it’s unlikely the city would need any full-time staff. Meters are already set up and can be read electronically, meaning that collecting billing information should be a relatively low-impact job.
Christie said he has spoken with street superintendent Mike Button, and that Button has prior experience with water and expects to be up to handling this workload with his current staff.
While the meters are in place, Christie said, the city
would need to prepare a billing system. He’s meeting with officials from Pineville, he said, to look at how they
have handled billing.
“We are doing a lot of planning behind the scenes as well,” he said.
Additionally, the council had a second reading about the Advertising and Promotion Commission
and the tax necessary to support it. The tax — 1 percent on prepared food and 2 percent on lodging — would pay for promoting Bella Vista.
Alderman Doug Fowler said that this is something the city can benefit from, and the cost for individuals should be slim — an extra dime on a $10 meal.
“This is not just about individual businesses, this is about Bella Vista more holistically,” he said. “It’s really about the greater Bella Vista.”
Fowler said that it’s important to consider how to run this commission efficiently, because the tax base for it is far smaller than those of neighboring cities.