BELLA VISTA – Bella Vista City Council closed 2021 by voting unanimously to approve a new budget for 2022.
The last regular board meeting of the year was held on December 13 in the Bella Vista courtroom. With Mayor Peter Christie absent due to illness, the meeting was chaired by Deputy Mayor Doug Fowler.
Regarding the new budget for the coming year, Fowler said: “Regarding general operating expenses, we expect revenue for 2022 to be in the order of $ 17.5 million. dollars. Our general operating expenses are expected to be approximately $ 17.2 million. We therefore expect revenues to be approximately $ 300,000 higher than our operating expenses will be today. “
Fowler said he personally thinks that “our income projections might be a little low compared to what we’ll actually achieve,” but added that it is “probably prudent, in the current environment, to be a not very careful “.
For example, he said, “We have the county contribution for Bella Vista that has been cut, and I know that’s going to impact our revenue from a county perspective. And then because of the state of the economy and the inflation that’s taking place, you never know what’s going to happen in front of you. You certainly don’t want to lean too far on your skis and expect income to come in, which, in fact, might not be. “
He also pointed out that a situation in the budget may show a deficit which in all likelihood will never materialize.
“With the income from our street fund, we are forecasting around $ 3 million in the city for 2022 with spending of $ 3.9 million, so that’s a sub-fund of about $ 938,000,” he said. he declared. “But it’s something that we go through every year. Usually what happens with these spending shortfalls for the street department is that we are funding this from our general revenue.”
He continued, “We are funding our city 100%. Assuming that all the departments will stay at full capacity, that they will spend whatever they had planned for operating expenses… in the five years that I have been here, it hasn’t happened yet. So we usually have an excess of income over expenditure every year. And even if that didn’t happen, we have a pretty healthy reserve, so we’re still able to sufficiently finance this street fund. “
Fowler listed the good news on the insurance and debt servicing fronts as important highlights as the new budget approaches.
“Our city, with the help of our human resources manager, has not seen any increase in medical insurance, and dental insurance has not increased either,” he said. “Workers’ compensation did increase by $ 27,000, but our debt service actually went down from $ 355,000 to $ 98,000 due to the repayment of an equipment loan.”
And, he said, “The fire continues to be the biggest expense for the residents of Bella Vista. I will say it’s a very remarkable fire department. And the police department is our expense. “2. They are very professional, very well-staffed and very well equipped. I am very glad they are here. And our third biggest expense is our community development department. I have worked with these people quite often.” .. I have to say we have some of the amazing people out there in this department. “
The budget vote follows the September 2021 financial report that was discussed earlier in the meeting.
“Our general revenues have increased by approximately $ 2 million since the beginning of the year compared to the previous year,” Fowler noted while discussing the September report. “And that’s not just attributed to city and state sales tax, but also to ambulance revenues, property taxes, etc. So we have real healthy taxes that help us fund our city. . “
Regarding the city’s spending to date, he said, “We’re about $ 1.1 million under budget, and I’ve excluded capital projects because it’s kind of a moving target – we don’t really know where it’s going to land. we’ll probably be under budget there too because we probably won’t spend it all. “
He added: “We are in a very healthy financial position as far as the city is concerned. “
The council also proceeded to its annual exercise of approval (by a unanimous vote) of a resolution authorizing the transfers of budgetary funds between the departments in the annual budget of the city 2021.
“It’s a resolution that we have to approve every year in case we need to transfer funds between different departments to make it all work out so that we can close the books,” Fowler said. “Usually, we don’t have to do anything like that. This year, we may have a problem to fix. “
Fowler was referring to the need to replace the Bella Vista Public Library HVAC system.
“From what I understand, the library’s HVAC system has broken down and we’re going to have to replace it,” he said. “The cost estimate on this is around $ 26,000, so we may have to move some money this year to cover that.”
Council member Jerry Snow replied, “I felt the library building still belonged to the [Bella Vista Public Library] foundation. Isn’t that correct? “
Staff lawyer Jason Kelley responded, “It does, and part of our rental agreement requires us to do all upkeep and upkeep, so it’s up to us to take care of it.”
The council has advanced an order to third reading, which will take place at the regular meeting in January. The article is an ordinance approving the cancellation of the drainage easement at 2, chemin Riordan in accordance with article 107-37 of the code of the city of Bella Vista, under conditions.
The next meeting of council is scheduled for January 18 at 5:30 p.m. in the Bella Vista courtroom. Its next regular meeting is scheduled for January 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the courtroom.