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Riverdale under budget, considers next year

By Kevin Liles

The city of Riverdale may see the beginnings of a recreation program, the construction of a 911 center and the creation of a code enforcement office.

Interim co-City Manger Sylvester Murray outlined a proposed $11 million budget during a Riverdale City Council public hearing at Monday's regular meeting.

Council members are scheduled to vote on the budget during a special meeting Monday.

Murray said that $15,000 is included in the proposal to fund the recreation initiative.

Riverdale does not have a recreation program, though council member Kenneth Ruffin said this initiative could grow into one.

"I would love to get some ideas from citizens," he said. "This will probably start with basketball, but will include girls and other sports. This was a way to start some initiative."

Also on Monday, council members approved amendments to the budget ending June 30, which came under budget by $246,551.

The proposed budget also includes the purchase of eight new police cars and one fire truck, a 2.5 percent cost-of-living increase in pay for city employees, and the addition of a finance director and grants assistant.

However, Iris Jessie, Riverdale's new city manager, said plans for the new 911 center are on hold.

"We have some other needs related to public safety, and we are asking to hold off on that for now," she said.

Murray and Ulysses Ford served as interim city managers until Jessie was hired. Monday was the last day for Murray and Ford.

The creation of a code enforcement office would bring in additional revenue, but that would not be its intent, Murray said. The department would be responsible for prosecuting people who fail to abide by environmental laws and other city codes.

"We are not trying to suggest that we can make money, but fines are involved in code enforcement," he said. The proposed budget calls for $1.3 million in spending from the reserve fund, which holds about $5 million, Murray said. About $1.7 million in reserves has been spent during this fiscal year.

In other business, the council rescheduled its June 28 meeting for Monday and approved a contract with Roberts and Company and Collaborative Firm to complete an update of its comprehensive plan.

The meeting was rescheduled because city officials will be attending the Georgia Municipal Association annual convention in Savannah.

Other proposals in the fiscal year 2005 budget include:

n making the court administrator a department head

n improving city retirement system at minimal cost

n $120,000 for legal fees ($90,000 was budgeted for fiscal year 2004, but $160,000 has been spent so far)

n $111,000 for information/technology (the city's Web site will be one of the first things improved)

n diversity training for all city employees