City coun­cil ap­proves re­serve

The Weekly Vista - - Front Page - KEITH BRYANT

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

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