Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 20, 2014

Riverside tax rate stays level

By Xiomara Levsen | Feb 27, 2013

RIVERSIDE — For the proposed budget in the fiscal year 2014 the city of Riverside has no proposed increases in city taxes.
“The 5.10 percent tax levy is one the lowest in the area and it is one of the lowest in the state,” City Administrator/Clerk Rusty Rogerson said.
There had been discussion previously about raising the tax levy and the water/sewer rate for next year but it is not in the proposed budget of $1,863,304.
“I am glad we were able to keep the taxes low,” council member Kevin Kiene said. “I did some research on our water/sewer system and feel comfortable that we have enough in reserves if something needs to be repaired.”
There are some city council members, including Christine Kirkwood, who feel taxes will have to go up in the future.
“Most towns’ taxes are at 8.1 percent, unless it’s very small,” she said. “Taxes will have to go back up after our agreement with the casino ends this next year.”
Kirkwood thinks the citizens need to look at what they want for the future.
“I think there is a division in town as to where we want to go and what we want to do next,” she said. “We’re still small enough that we still have control of our destiny so it will be up to the community to decide where we want it to be.”
Kirkwood said she would like to hear more about what the citizens would like to be included in the budget.
“We need to think about what we would like to accomplish in the future,” she said. “We have already accomplished some things like a new fire station and a new water/sewer plant.”
One of the things the city is proposing in the 2014 budget is to have $100,000 set aside for the possibility for a new truck for the fire department.
“If we get our new fire truck it will be a ladder truck, I believe,” Kirkwood said. “Ladder trucks can run between $500,000 to $800,000.”
Currently the Riverside Fire Department does not have a ladder truck.
“This would be another asset for the city and the county,” Kirkwood said. “With the casino having a five-story building, it would be nice to have one.”
Mayor Bill Poch likes the idea of setting aside the money instead of seeking out loans for needs.
“Putting money aside is good stewardship on anything,” Poch said. “We can make a plan and make a change if needed.”
Another item proposed in the budget is $165,130 for culture and recreation. Rogerson asked the council to have that money set aside for this purpose.
“I am glad and thankful that he’s (Rogerson) been proactive on this,” said Poch.  “This is something we haven’t done before.”
The programs will begin being offered in the spring and will be through the Washington YMCA and Iowa State University Outreach.
This year there were work sessions to review the proposed budget for next fiscal year. Before, committees were used.
“I’m really glad we had some work sessions,” Kirkwood said. “Everybody in the council was concerned about getting it right. ”
Poch would also like to see the work sessions continue.
“Sometimes when you have council people, that the city isn’t their day-to-day job, it’s hard to have a vision for next year,” he said. “It’s a good idea to have a budget and a plan.”
There will be a public hearing about the proposed budget on March 4 at 7 p.m. at the council chambers. Kirkwood would like to see more public involvement.
“People need to speak up,” she said. “The long-term growth and stability comes from the people here in town.”

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