City Council votes to cease buying water system
The City Council at a special meeting Monday voted 3-3 on a resolution to cease pursuing purchasing a portion of the Centerton Water system.
Mayor Peter Christie voted in favor of the resolution to break the tie, thus discontinuing talks of Bella Vista buying a portion of Centerton’s water system that runs from the intersection of highways 72 and 279 north into Bella Vista.
The portion of the system that was considered currently serves less than 100 customers in both Bella Vista and Gravette.
The plan was originally seen as a way for the city to provide water to those areas in city limits that are not serviced by the Bella Vista POA water system and are currently on well water. However, after months of consideration, research and legal advice from an outside firm, the council was asked to reconsider this purchase.
Christie cited two particular legal issues that could arise that changed his mind regarding the purchase: the state statute that says a municipality cannot operate a water system in the negative, thus leading to potentially higher rates for customers, and a law that could allow the City of Gravette to force Bella Vista to sell back in the future the lines of the system that are in Gravette’s city limits.
The purchase included far too many risks with unknown benefits to make this a wise use of taxpayer dollars, Christie said.
Council members voted on a similar resolution at the regular meeting held November 18. However, only five of six council members were present, resulting in a 3-2 vote against the resolution ceasing the purchase.
Though this vote did not immediately kill the pursuit of the purchase, to effectively pass a resolution or ordinance and to pass any other related legislation in the future, a full majority of the council — four members, which can include the mayor if necessary — must vote in favor.
In order to provide Centerton with a decision as promised at the first of December on what Bella Vista was planning regarding the water purchase, a second vote was held.