Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview
Overview of Fayetteville, AR

Monday, December 04, 2006

Bella Vista – Notes on the Village Becoming a Town

Voters in Bella Vista Village approved incorporation at the November General Election by an overwhelming percentage – roughly 65% for, 35% against. If all the filings and other legalities fall into place as expected, Bella Vista will become Arkansas’ 520th municipality on January 1, 2007.

Now that the election is over, the work begins. Nothing will be easy or quick for the new town. They are literally starting from scratch.

Starting a town from square one with no financial resources is a formidable challenge. I think of it as a teenager leaving the nest with no money and trying to stand on his own. It can be done, but it’s difficult.

The Property Owners’ Association has governed things for many years. The association owns eight golf courses, seven lakes, two recreation centers, a tennis center and more. In addition to managing all the amenities, the POA has also been responsible for such necessities as street maintenance, fire protection and law enforcement. The association says it will retain ownership of the amenities and property owners will continue paying dues to maintain them.

The town can expect turnback money from the state to arrive sometime in 2007. Until then, there is no money to pay for police and fire protection, salaries for elected officials and employees, computers, phones, utilities, paper or pens, and all the other mundane and capital expenses necessary to run a town. (Arkansas turns back portions of the fuel and vehicle registration taxes it collects to municipalities. The amounts are based on census figures.)

In order to determine the amount of turnback funds Bella Vista can expect to receive, a census must take place. The U.S. 2000 census showed about 16,000 people residing in Bella Vista. However, the physical boundaries of the area have changed since 2000. One guesstimate is that only 14,000 people would have been counted within the boundaries of 2000.

Approximately 27,000 people now call Bella Vista home. Needless to say, more people in the town means more turnback funds. A special census would determine the official population – but there is no money at present to pay for the census.

It’s a catch-22 situation. The good news is the town will have help from various entities. Benton County Sheriff’s Department will continue to provide police protection until the town can assume responsibility. Cooper Communities, Inc., the developer that created Bella Vista in 1965, has agreed to donate office space and some computers for several months.

The new town and the existing property owners’ association must work together closely in the coming months. Many decisions must be made. Some assets will have to be transferred to the town while others remain with the POA. Costs must be determined. Compounding these problems is the fact that thousands of dues-paying property owners do not live in Bella Vista.

The elected mayor and aldermen have full plates. In addition to the items already mentioned and many more, they must draw wards of equal representation within the town. *

Overcoming the many hurdles coming up in the months and years ahead will be a daunting task – but it can and will be accomplished. I heartily commend and applaud everyone involved as they take on the challenges of developing a village into a town.

* Though Bella Vista is already large enough to be considered a city, the incorporation vote had to call for a town style of government because there was no town council in place to draw the wards. When the wards are drawn and population figures become official, the State of Arkansas will no doubt upgrade the designation to city of the first class.

For more information:


Also see my blog article dated March 19, 2006.

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