City Coun­cil takes next step to pur­chase wa­ter sys­tem

The Weekly Vista - - Front Page - KEITH BRYANT kbryant@nwadg.com

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.

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