City coun­cil con­sid­ers re­serve funds

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

The Bella Vista City Coun­cil dis­cussed set­ting an un­re­served gen­eral fund bal­ance for 2019 dur­ing its Mon­day, Sept. 17, work ses­sion.

These items will be up for fur­ther dis­cus­sion and po­ten­tial ap­proval dur­ing the coun­cil’s Mon­day, Sept. 24, reg­u­lar meet­ing.

Mayor Peter Christie ex­plained that, while the coun­cil did ap­prove fi­nan­cial poli­cies in April, an ac­tual per­cent­age for un­re­served funds — a set of funds main­tained within a per­cent­age range of the city’s an­nual in­come to cover risks, in­clud­ing eco­nomic down­turns and other costly emer­gen­cies — was not cho­sen. The pol­icy was ap­proved with a place­holder range of 2535 per­cent of an­nual in­come for re­serves, he said.

“We’ve been look­ing at that as part of our bud­get­ing process,” Christie said.

The bud­get­ing process in ques­tion also in­cludes safe­guards, he said, to cover the city in the event of a fi­nan­cial emer­gency.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port pre­pared by fi­nance di­rec­tor Cary El­sten, the city cur­rently keeps $7.716 mil­lion in un­re­served funds, which ex­ceeds the $3.6-5.04 mil­lion these guide­lines call for. Ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment, the city’s in­come for a 12-month pe­riod was $14.4 mil­lion.

Ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment, “Ex­cess un­re­served gen­eral fund bal­ances will be brought into the tar­get range in a spend­ing plan phased in over the suc­ceed­ing five years in con­junc­tion with the five-year fi­nan­cial plan.”

The un­re­served gen­eral funds are to be mon­i­tored monthly and a short­age at any point will trig­ger 5-10 per­cent bud­get cuts, which are to be in­cluded in re­duc­tion plans pre­pared by depart­ment heads.

Coun­cil mem­ber Frank An­der­son said he had con­cerns about in­clud­ing a max­i­mum num­ber for the un­re­served gen­eral funds.

“It al­most sounds like we’re forc­ing our­selves to spend down to 35 per­cent,” he said. “It seems to me we should have a floor.”

He sug­gested word­ing the fi­nal prod­uct as a min­i­mum bal­ance.

Coun­cil mem­ber John Flynn said it’s im­por­tant for the city to use the money it brings in.

“At some point, cit­i­zens say ‘why are you sit­ting on all our money?’” he said.

Coun­cil mem­bers also looked at set­ting a hear­ing date for a re­quest from Cooper Realty In­vest­ments to va­cate a roughly 0.47-acre por­tion of pub­lic rightof-way on Memo­rial Drive.

“Cooper has come for­ward with a large-scale de­vel­op­ment plan to re­ju­ve­nate … Town Cen­ter East. That in­cludes an ex­ten­sion of Harps,” Christie said.

The pro­posed time and date for this hear­ing is 6:30 p.m.,

Oct. 22, at the Bella Vista court fa­cil­ity, dur­ing the reg­u­lar city coun­cil meet­ing.

The coun­cil also con­sid­ered pur­chas­ing a baler for the re­cy­cling cen­ter at $75,256.60, cov­ered by a grant from Ben­ton County.

This baler, he said, is go­ing to be use­ful be­cause the cur­rent baler has too nar­row a throat, mean­ing vol­un­teers need to stand at the top and fold card­board to fit.

This pur­chase needs to be ap­proved, he said, be­cause the or­der needs to be placed be­fore Novem­ber.

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