BELLA VISTA — In March, the Bella Vista Property Owners Association Board of Directors scheduled an election to raise appraisal fees.

The election begins next week with the mailing of ballots on Wednesday, and the proposal is to increase the monthly fee for upgraded lot owners by $3. Owners of unupgraded lots would continue to pay the same fees they were paying before, which is $16 per month.

The last rating increase was three years ago, and the governing documents prohibit increases more often than every three years. This increase was the first in 19 years. If the new plan is adopted, the proposed $3 increase would take effect March 1, 2023, exactly three years after the previous increase.

At the March meeting, council member Sandy Fosdick was the only council member to vote against the plan. She said it’s not fair to ask owners of improved lots to raise their assessment while allowing owners of unimproved lots to continue paying $16 a month.

The association’s chief operating officer, Tom Judson, explained that he did not believe owners of unimproved lots would accept any increases. There are more unimproved batches than improved batches, he said, so they can stop a raise they don’t like. With the number of new homes coming in, that could change in the future, he said.

Also, while there are unimproved landowners who live in the area and use Bella Vista’s amenities, that’s a small percentage, Judson said. Most unimproved lots are owned by companies that don’t see the value in amenities and will automatically vote against any increases.

Recently, Steve McKee, a former board member who doesn’t always agree with the board’s direction, explained why he wouldn’t support the plan.

“It seems like the unenhanced are in control,” he said. “So, from a reasonable perspective, is it reasonable for one member to pay $192 while others pay $480 for the same amenities? »

He also disagrees that the number of unimproved lot owners using amenities is so small. He said that in 2019, the last year the figures were released, around 25% of photo IDs were sold to owners of unimproved land. As of 2020, Photo ID Cards have been renamed Activity Cards and give members who purchase one the option to use many amenities for free or at a reduced rate.

Some members believe, McKee said, that the Property Owners Association will now push for a raise every three years – even if it’s not necessary.

The increase is necessary, Judson said, to keep amenities free or low-cost for members. Without the increase, annual golf membership would have to increase by $100 a year, he said. Other fees would also increase.

He acknowledged that there hasn’t been much discussion in the community about the proposal, but he thinks people understand that frequent small increases will prevent a much larger and more difficult increase in the future.

“The board spoke at length in a public meeting. We weren’t hiding,” he said.

With the ballots on Wednesday, the association’s administration is gearing up to spread the word.

Signs, including signs in golf carts, were handed out along with brochures listing the facts, said Ashley Wood, the association’s new director of marketing and communications.

But the best marketing happens when people ask questions, she said. Once members hear about the plan, they tend to support it, she said.

“We want to do what’s best and best for the community,” she said.

Judson said there will likely be volunteers calling members to talk about the election.

The election begins when members receive their ballots and ends on October 4, with the results announced in Lakepoint at 6 p.m. that day. A ballot is distributed to the owners of each lot and members can choose to vote by mail or electronically. According to the governing documents, at least 50% of the owners in good standing must participate in the vote to achieve quorum. Once quorum is reached, at least 51% of the votes must be in favor of a rating increase for it to pass.