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Struggles continue to upset Riverdale community

2/26/09 (Thu)

Struggles continue to upset Riverdale community
By STU MERRY
Riverdale is a community in turmoil.
Residents are seeking answers from their city council, while the council – or what remains of it – is left wondering what hit them.
Following the Feb. 9 city council meeting, two council members, the mayor and an auditor tendered their resignation following a heated debate over discrepancies regarding rental space on city property. But that’s just the latest issue.
Simmering for the past few months is what some residents say is the council’s cavalier attitude when it comes to receiving public input into Riverdale matters.
City officials maintain council meetings turn into shouting matches. Residents say their voice isn’t being heard as questions are left unanswered. Tempers flare, city officials resign. More often than not, it’s a case of he said, she said. Simply put, the town is divided.
According to a resident, the pot began to boil a few months ago as distrust of the council, questioning its motives, began to arise.
Former Riverdale Mayor Bill Rowe noted his taxes and utilities (water, sewer and electrical) have doubled the past two years.
He said he realizes part of the increase was due in part to the revaluation on property about two years ago when Vanguard Appraisals revalued residential property. Rowe also notes that city taxes have gone up immensely.
But when inquiring of city officials at council meetings about the increases, Rowe said that he is repeatedly cut off at the pass. Anticipated revenues from the newly upgraded water treatment plant have also failed to materialize as water rates escalate, residents say.
Rowe said one of the more recent concerns of citizens pertained to the preliminary 2009 budget that showed a deficit of a quarter-million dollars plus.
“People wanted to find out where the money was being spent,” he said.
For the past few years the City of Riverdale has been attempting to develop lots surrounding the community to entice potential new residents to the area.