Bella Vista Property Owners Divided On Fee Increase Vote

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BELLA VISTA (KFSM) -- The Bella Vista Property Owners Association (POA) is asking property owners to approve a property assessment fee increase.

Ballots were distributed to all property owners on Sept. 1 and include two questions which ask to raise the fees on improved and unimproved properties.

If passed, owners of improved properties, which include a water meter, would pay $33 a month in fees, up from the $24 that is currently collected. Unimproved properties fees would be raised $3 to $19 a month.

POA Chief Operating Officer, Tom Judson, said there are 13,000 improved lots, compared to about 20,000 unimproved.

Those property owners in Bella Vista have until  4 p.m. on November 1 to cast their ballots.

For residents, the vote holds a lot of meaning.

"The amenities are dated and need to be updated," resident Wayne Jertson said. "They've tried several times over the years and I think it's time."

The last increase was approved in 2001.

Jim Smith, a resident and an avid golfer said he is for the fee hike.

"It's going to keep our courses up," Smith said. "We're going to have nice courses. We're going to help redo Riordan Hall."

Many of those against the increase, including Jason McCarthy, feel the vote should not take place.

"Honestly, I think the POA should've disappeared when Bella Vista became a city," McCarthy said. "It should've knocked the POA out."

Judson, said the money will be used for a five-year rejuvenation plan that has already started. Some of those improvements include a new waterfront restaurant, an outdoor music venue, a beach and renovations to a few golf courses and club houses.

Resident Clint Richards said he thinks the focus should be less on golf courses and more on attracting younger families.

"They need to come up with a plan that focuses not so much on draining money into golf courses," Richards said. "There's definitely a more youthful representation."

A lawsuit was recently filed by a Bella Vista resident who claimed the election is illegal.

Judson responded to the suit by saying he "respects the opinions of all property owners and is confident the issue will be resolved so both parties can move on."

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