Photo by Heather Middleton
By Jeylin White
The Riverdale City Council will move forward with the city's proposed, $11.3 million general fund budget for 2012.
The measure passed on a 3-to-2 vote, during Wednesday's council meeting. Councilmembers Wayne Hall and Wanda Wallace voted against the budget.
According to City Manager Iris Jessie, the 2012 operating budget is a compilation of the revenues, expenditures, and service-delivery costs expected between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012. The city's largest budget category, the general fund will pay for routine operations and services provided by the government, including police, fire and emergency communications operations, community and economic development, general services, administration, cultural and leisure services, and governance.
Jessie added that the budget will allow the city to make some major improvements to its appearance, while also adding new equipment -- replacing a 30-year-old fire engine, and acquiring two new police patrol cars -- as well as enhancing sidewalks and walkways along Highway 85.
Jessie said the city will focus on economic development, and continue to partner with the Riverdale Downtown Development Authority to attract investors to the Central Business District and the Riverdale Town Center.
"Because of the steep decline in the value of residential property," she said," the development of commercial real estate is crucial to the city's viability."
That steep decline in property values, Jessie added, forced the city to decrease its budget, which will result in the loss of four part-time positions, include five furlough days for city employees, add a hiring freeze on vacant positions, and mean the deferment of capital purchases, except for police patrol cars and apparatus for the fire department.
"The city had to incorporate five furloughs days into the budget, in order to avoid raising property taxes," Jessie explained. "In order to be more cost-efficient, we had to address personnel, because this is the city's biggest cost."
Jessie added that the furlough days will correspond with holidays, when employees usually request to be off.
Property owners in Riverdale, she said, will actually pay less in property taxes, because of the decline in property values. "While this will mean less revenue for the City of Riverdale to use for service-delivery, there is no recommendation for an increase in the millage rate, which will remain at 7.5 percent," Jessie said.
"There has been no property-tax increase in the City of Riverdale for the past six years, even though service levels have greatly expanded," she added.
"To help bring revenue into the City of Riverdale, the city will sell outdated equipment, such as old cars," she said, adding that the money will be used for operational costs, and to help with the construction of a new park that will be located on Wilson Road.
"Believe it or not, the city is in good shape, because of all the business be have brought in," said Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon. "We just became conservative, and were making money from all of our events, so, if you had to look at it on a scale of 1-10, Riverdale is at a 9."
In other business, the council recognized the King of Kings Male Youth Leadership Development Program as an official mentoring program for males, that will be offered to Riverdale's elementary and middle schools.