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Riverdale ponders funding for Town Center

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Despite plans to break ground on the Riverdale Town Center before the close of the year, city officials have yet to finalize how the project will be funded.

According to Doug Manning, director of public works and community development, the city will try to decide on the matter next month.

"We don't have [a groundbreaking date] because we don't have the financing options agreed on by the mayor and council yet," said Manning. "The hurdle right now is to get them to approve the financing schedule. Otherwise, we would be putting the cart before the horse.

"We would like the matter addressed again for voting purposed on Sept. 8," he said.

In a Monday work session, city officials discussed a myriad of financing options for the Town Center, including Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) initiatives, Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds, loans, and general fund expenditures.

In the meeting that followed, the city council voted 3-0 (councilman Rick Scoggins abstaining) to apply to the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) for additional money to help with the architectural design of the project.

The city council also voted to accept a $150,000 CDBG from the county for the community center portion of the Town Center development. While the city requested $3 million from the county earlier this year for the project, the city was only granted a fraction of that.

Stephanie Thomas, Riverdale city clerk, said additional funding from the ARC would "ease some of the burden from our general funding" and give the city "a final boost to finalize that project."

"Anytime we can use monetary assistance from anywhere else, we will take advantage of it," said Thomas. "We have been conservative with our expenses over the years, have made some good financial decisions, and have had good management, so we are moving in the right direction."

Evelyn Wynn-Dixon, Riverdale mayor, said the City of Riverdale was recently given a AAA credit rating, and that she believes the project can be done without heavy borrowing, or dipping deeply into the city's general fund.

"We're going to have SPLOST money and grant money, so we really won't be borrowing that much," she said. "We will not be raising any taxes. We're going to create a new lifestyle and new jobs, and this will be a way to keep taxes down."