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The Bella Vista City Council unanimously approved a resolution declaring the city's intent to study impact fees and adopt them if they prove appropriate.

"We have been talking about this for the better part of at least a month," Mayor Peter Christie said.

The fees, if enacted, would be applied to new construction and need to be kept separate from general revenues and devoted to specific purposes, he explained.

The city would need to put out a request for proposal and hire experts to calculate these fees, he added.

The city's lacking commercial tax base makes it difficult to cover all the bills, and this could be an option to help cover the strain Bella Vista's growth has put on the city's budget, Christie said.

Council member Larry Wilms said he was concerned the city could get poor proposals if this request is not specific enough.

It would be helpful to identify specific areas the city would like to charge impact fees to address, he added.

"I think it's too general and too vague," he said.

Staff attorney Jason Kelley said that this resolution is strictly expressing an interest in examining impact fees but will not require the city to enact them.

"You are not bound to adopt impact fees in the future," he said.

Council member Doug Fowler said that he's interested in learning more from people with knowledge of impact fees and how they are calculated.

"I'm just looking for guidance and expertise," he said. "That's really what I'd be looking to get out of this right now."

Council member Linda Lloyd said that she's also interested in further examining this potential revenue source for the city.

"I'm not a real fan of impact fees, but I'm certainly willing to go in with an open mind," she said.

The council also tabled, until its Sept. 28 regular meeting, ordinances requiring a fence around above-ground pools and requiring the removal of dead or hazardous trees.

Christie suggested tabling until September because the council will have a very busy August meeting already.

Some concerns from council members -- including the need for an arborist solution to go alongside the tree removal ordinance and concerns about hot tubs falling under the swimming pool ordinance and whether a cover would be adequate -- are expected to be reviewed by city staff between now and the September meeting.

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