On Thursday, the Bella Vista POA Board of Directors quickly approved the 2022 budget which was presented to the public on Nov. 11. The budget has income estimated at over $22,000,000 for the coming year.
The capitol budget at $1.5 million includes some deferred expenses because of the costs of the Trafalgar Road fire in 2019 and covid-19 in 2020. Projects range from $175,000 to rebuild tennis courts to $11,000 for a ball dispenser at the driving range. Included are trucks for general maintenance and lakes, mowers and cart path repairs for golf maintenance, servers for IT, some paving work at the RV Park, the parking lot serving Papa Mike's and Rayburn Dam. The Lake Ann sink hole repair will begin with $103,000 budgeted. There is money set aside for new nursery ponds near Loch Lomond for the Lakes Department and improvements at the Metfield pickleball courts.
General Manager Tom Judson said each year capitol projects should cost close to the amount lost through depreciation. That hasn't been true in the past few years, but this year it's getting close. Depreciation was estimated at $1.8 million and capitol expenses are budgeted for about 85% of that number.
Labor costs have impacted the 2022 budget because it's been difficult to hire enough employees to keep services running. In mid 2021 hourly wages were adjusted and another increase is planned for March 2022. Judson pointed out that the adjustments do not include senior supervisors or department heads. There's also a planned 3% increase that is actually less than cost of living.
Judson said it's difficult to compare the new budget to 2020 and 2021 because of the unusual costs due to covid and a $2 million legal settlement that came in 2021. The budget and a presentation about the budget are posted on the POA webpage, https://bellavistapoa.com/governance.
The water department has its own operating budget. Although the POA owns the water department, the accounting is kept completely separate.
The POA is still repaying an inter-company loan for over $3.7 million from the water department. Those funds were used to put out the Trafalgar Road fire. The plan is to repay $280,000 in 2022. In two years, the POA has repaid $1.2 million.
The water department budget also contains capitol items including $1 million for water line replacement, an emergency generator for the water office and $140,000 for a water tower renovation. A light duty truck, a van and a new server are also included.
Board Chair David Brandenburg pointed out that the board spent a full day with the department heads developing the budget before last week's presentation. It was passed unanimously.
The fee schedule was also approved with just a few minor changes from 2021. Many of the fees were set for three years during the last assessment election. Although she voted for the schedule, board member Teah Bidwell said she hopes the board can lower the $30 fee for the activity card in the future.
Treasurer Stacie Higgins said October was another "outstanding" month and pointed out some areas that did very well. The resale of foreclosed lots was over budget by $169,000; food and beverage was over by $107,000; and guest golf fees were over by $55,000. Golf in general is doing well, she said, and so is the RV Park.
Water, which has a separate budget, is also doing well with revenue up compared to both budget and last year.
Two policies that were already discussed and passed as a first reading were passed -- Policy 1.02, Establishing, Changing, or Rescinding Governing Documents and Policy 8.01, Directors and Officers Indemnifications -- were passed as a second reading.
The policies can be found at https://bellavistapoa.com/governance/governing-documents/.
The buyout of four cell tower leases, another issue that was discussed previously, passed. The POA will receive $565,000 immediately, rather than a monthly payment that would bring in more money over time. A similar offer of $338,400 was made for another tower where the lease is almost up.
Board member Jan Hagan pointed out that a change in technology might terminate the leases at any point in the future. It's safer to accept the lessor amount now but other board members disagreed. The vote was five in favor and four opposed for each motion.