No job cuts in Riverdale's budget

The Riverdale City Council will move forward with the city’s proposed, $11.7 million general fund budget for 2013.

The measure passed by a 3-to-1 vote during a recent council meeting. Council member Wanda Wallace voted against the budget. Council member Cynthia Stamp Jones was not present.

“We presented a perfectly balance budget [this year],” said Lolita Grant, Riverdale’s director of finance. “No one will lose their jobs and we will keep things running without having to use other resources.”

A steep decline in property values last year led to budget cuts that forced the loss of four part-time positions, the inclusion of five furlough days for city employees and a hiring freeze on vacant positions.

The 2013 operating budget — approved last Wednesday — is a compilation of the revenues, expenditures, and service-delivery costs expected between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013. 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.

According to City Manager Iris Jessie, 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 truck, 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.

Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon said one of the highlights of the budget is that — unlike neighboring cities — the city of Riverdale will not have to dip into other savings to cover costs.

“I am very happy about the city’s budget,” Wynn-Dixon said. “We have a perfectly balanced budget; it shows that Riverdale is on the right track in improving our community.”

Jessie told council members that the goal was to reduce spending. “Our goal was to make every attempt not spend all of our revenue.”

Grant said the city had an $867,000 deficit. She said to keep the budget balanced, several city departments were asked to reduce the amount of money requested. The total requested by the city’s departments was $12,476,023. After the revision, the city approved $11,608,913 for all city departments.

Seventy percent of the budget will be covered by taxes, Grant said. Thirty-eight percent of those taxes will consist of property taxes, a total of $3,141,829. She said the current value of property tax in Riverdale is estimated to be down 3 percent; however, Grant said they will not know the actual value of property until the Clayton County Tax Commissioners releases the results in August.