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The Bella Vista City Council voted unanimously in favor of amending the 2020 city budget to appropriate more than $20 million in bond restricted revenues toward fire and police project expenditures during its Monday, Oct. 26, regular meeting.

The budget bond revenue is to cover fire and police projects approved by voters in March, with $5,404,958.63 going toward the rebuilt Fire Station 3 and $18,483,998.67 for the new public safety building to house the police department, court facility and dispatch center.

"We've gone through all the legal technicalities, the bonds have been sold and the cash is in hand," Mayor Peter Christie said. "We have the obligation to set up the budget for these two projects."

The funds will be held by US Bank, which will also receive the related 1% city sales tax revenue directly from the state to pay off these bonds, he explained.

The work on Fire Station 3 is expected to start soon, he said, and the development was approved by the planning commission during its Monday, Oct. 12, regular meeting.

With these items officially on the budget, he said, the city can provide the proper oversight and make sure spending on these projects is within proper limits.

"It's a very important housekeeping item," Christie said.

The council also tabled ordinances to require a fenced enclosure around pools and spas and another resolution to add unsafe trees to the city's nuisance code and require their removal.

The council tabled the ordinance to require the removal of unsafe and hazardous trees to allow for more time to better clarify the ordinance.

Councilmember Steven Bourke said he was concerned that the proposed ordinance, as written, has some contradictions -- including referring to sections that do not refer back to it and verbiage that suggests the need for immediate removal in contrast to officials' interpretations of the rule.

"There are things that need to be cleaned up in here ... there needs to be consistency in all that," he said.

Councilmember Doug Fowler said that he believes in the goal of the ordinance and wants to ensure the city can help residents with issues involving dangerous trees, but he wants to be sure the language is correct.

"I think we will go through the proper steps," he said. "This could be pretty valuable to protect, as it says, the public health, safety and welfare."

Councilmember Linda Lloyd said she believes it's important to give residents an option to get help.

Recently, Lloyd said she has seen an issue with a house under a precariously-leaning tree growing from a vacant lot, meaning the situation is a little more complex than knocking on a neighbor's door.

The council also approved new trash collection rates, an appointment to the board of zoning adjustments, two appointments to the public library advisory board, a 2021 meeting schedule for the council, the purchase of a pickup truck for Community Development Services, and an increased fine to be levied to defray the costs of incarceration.

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