City council approves reserve
The Bella Vista City Council unanimously approved unreserved general fund balances for 2019 and the purchase of a recycling baler during its regular meeting Monday, Sept. 24.
Mayor Peter Christie explained that setting the unreserved funds was a requirement for financial policies the council passed earlier this year with a placeholder range of 25 to 35 percent.
The approved measure calls for the city to maintain no less than 25 percent of annual earnings as unreserved funds, or money set aside to cover risks — including economic downturns and emergencies.
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 million the guidelines call for. According to the document, the city’s income for a 12-month period was $14.4 million.
Council member Doug Fowler said the city is doing very well financially. In addition to this healthy surplus, he said, the city is on track to be roughly $1 million in the black on its 2018 budget.
“We have a really healthy fund
balance,” he said.
Council member Jim Wozniak said that, with its current surplus, the city should earmark some funds for capital projects.
“You know it’s coming. City hall’s coming, the cop shop’s coming,” he said.
Christie explained that, with the amount set, officials can know exactly how much surplus money it has to work with.
“That’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re preparing a fiveyear capital improvement plan,” he said.
The council also discussed using grant funds to purchase a $75,256 baler for the recycling center, which needs one with a wider throat so workers can insert larger pieces of cardboard.
Council member Frank Anderson explained that the grants cannot be given directly to a private entity like the recycling center.
Staff attorney Jason Kelley said that, while the city can’t donate to the center, the two entities can collaborate. The center agrees to provide recycling services to citizens, he explained.
Christie explained overall process.
“We obtain the equipment and we receive grants, for the most part … from the Benton County Solid Waste district and then we give it to the recycling center and they pay the insurance. So it’s a little bit convoluted,” he said.
This particular unit was the lowest-priced option that met specifications when the city went to bid, he said, and it also can be serviced locally in Springdale.
The council also set a millage rate for 2019 at a total of 5.5 mills, with 4 mills to cover general funds for city operations, 1 mill to cover firemen’s pension funds and 0.5 mills for the policemen’s pension fund.
Christie said this had to be passed in September because the deadline is Oct. 20, which is too early for the council’s Oct. 22 regular meeting.
The council also approved waiving formal bidding requirements to allow the purchase of street salt and sand through March 2019, setting a hearing date during the Oct. 22 regular meeting to consider the petition of Cooper Realty to vacate a portion of Memorial Drive and appointing Caleb Ellicott to an unfinished term on the Bella Vista Public Library Advisory Board. the