Town Hall Meeting scheduled for Sunday, June 21, 2020 at 2pm

Town Hall Meeting scheduled for Sunday, June 21, 2020 at 2pm

The monthly Mayor’s Town Hall meeting is set for Sunday, June 21st at 2pm.  The meeting will be held in the Community Room at City Hall and online.

The agenda for the meeting follows:

MAYOR’S TOWN HALL MEETING
Riverdale City Hall, 110 Manor Drive
Meeting To Be Held in the Community Room at City Hall and Online via GoToMeeting
Citizens can attend online or via phone.

DATE:    Sunday June 21st, 2020
TIME:    2:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.

THE MAYOR’S TOWN HALL MEETING IS A PUBLIC INTAKE SESSION FOR THE MAYOR, RESIDENTS OF RIVERDALE AND ANY OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES. THE PURPOSE OF THE MEETING IS TO INFORM RESIDENTS, ANSWER QUESTIONS AND TO GATHER INPUT ABOUT CITY ISSUES AFFECTING THE RESIDENTS OF RIVERDALE.

Agenda:

1. Welcome

2. Current Issues:

A. MRT/DCBT Connector Route Discussion
B. Erosion Problems on Manor Drive Hill
C. Sanitary Sewer Rates
D. Wood Estates Phase II
E. Meals-To-Go Program

3. Comments/Questions from the Public

4. Adjourn

An official version of the agenda can be viewed on the public notice bulletin boards in the City or in staff offices at City Hall during regular business hours.

Please come with your thoughts, comments and fresh ideas!

See you then!

Attending the Meeting Online

To attend the Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting on Sun, June 21, 2020 (from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM) online, just join the meeting from your computer, tablet or smart phone by clicking on the button or this link. You can access the meeting by using the access code: 569-793-517

Not comfortable joining online? You can dial into the meeting with your phone, just call: (872) 240-3212 and use the access code (569-793-517) when prompted.

Please Note: It’s highly recommended you get the GoToMeeting app and install it on your computer before the meeting starts so you’ll be ready when we begin.

Just go to: https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/569793517 to download the app.

For the first time in two and a half years, we had no one attend the town hall meeting, so Mayor Mike Bawden created a video update regarding each item in the agenda.

There are two (or more) sides to every issue …

There are two (or more) sides to every issue …

Thanks in large part to outrage expressed by some members of the biking community on social media, Riverdale has found itself, once again, in the media’s spotlight. This time, the controversy swirls around the City’s decision to erect a barrier fence along the Mississippi River Trail behind some homes on Wisteria Lane and across a city-owned lot with a cement path that connects the MRT to Kensington Street. By blocking this path with the fence, Riverdale effectively cuts off access to a public road that bikers and pedestrians can take between the MRT and the Duck Creek Bike Trail which terminates in VanGundy Park just a few blocks away.

Members of the Quad City and Des Moines bike riding community seem to think I’m a tool.

Even though this has been a major subject of discussion at Council Meetings and Town Hall Meetings for the past two years, the snow fence erected while Kensington and Wisteria road resurfacing work caught many in the bike community by surprise. The City’s reluctance to remove the snow fence as the road project reaches its conclusion has pushed more outspoken members of the bike community well beyond surprise to indignation.

I’ve included some of the comments made by bike riders in this post so you can see what people are saying to me and about Riverdale during all of this. And while I’ve had to remind a few residents to tone down the rhetoric a time or two, Riverdale residents, by and large, are asking good questions and expressing their points of view fairly openly.

That includes a resident or two who don’t necessarily agree with the City’s decision and have made a point of calling that out on social media as well.

And that’s fine. Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

So here’s mine.

According to some bikers, I lie for a living. And as for the north side of State Street – I’m not shifting responsibility there to them – the north side of State Street between Duck Creek and Brenny’s is in Bettendorf.

I, quite literally, don’t have a dog in this fight. I’m the mayor of Riverdale and a user of the MRT and DCBT. I’ve used the connector at Kensington and I’ve had a bike rider who wasn’t paying attention hit my car with his bike while I was waiting for him to pass over my driveway to get onto State Street (fortunately neither the biker nor my car were injured).

I have a lot of friends who bike on the trails. Some of them understand the frustration of the Riverdale residents most affected by the bike and pedestrian traffic using the connector trail to go up and down Kensington, some of my friends do not. But because they’re my friends, they’ve taken the time to reasonably and patiently explain their positions to me.

And, of course, I have lots and lots of friends in Riverdale. Several live right down there in the Havens Acres neighborhood and have had to deal with what all of them (to a person) say is a major inconvenience to the “quiet enjoyment” of their life in the neighborhood. I understand that. I used to live in the McClellan Heights neighborhood in Davenport and although the Bix 7 race was fun every year, dealing with the straggling joggers and walkers doing the “Bix at Six” training runs a month or two before the big race could be a real hassle.

So, it’s as mayor of Riverdale that I approach this problem. And as the mayor, it’s my job to be the point-guy to take the questions and to reach out to those affected most to see if we can work out a solution that will work for everyone in a way that reassures people the roads they travel are safe and that their property rights are being respected.

What that probably means is that NOBODY is going to be 100% satisfied with the solution that eventually results. So, now you’re warned.

I’m a person who tries to deal fairly and from a position of fact and knowledge. That’s a little unusual for someone who trades in emotion, humor and rhetoric for a living, but it’s who I am. And maybe because I work with words and with journalists, I really don’t like exaggerations made to make a point and I abhor intentional misstatements of truth. Those are shenanigans that decrease the power and potency of the person making the claims in my book … and there’s been plenty of that in this latest tempest.

What Do People Have Wrong?

There are incorrect, inaccurate and possibly intentionally misleading claims being made by some people in the bike community that don’t help their argument and undercut the offers to help made by leadership from community bike clubs who want to help us find a solution. One news report showed a member of the bike community say that Riverdale was not allowing people to ride on Kensington Street. “Any cyclists who are using the Mississippi River Trail can no longer use this public street,” said James McAdams to WQAD’s Bianca Reyes.

So, I’m guessing if there’s a lawsuit over this issue, we’ll have the Quad City Bike Community to thank for it.

That’s not true. The streets in Riverdale are public thoroughfares and can be used by anyone. What Riverdale is restricting is access across city-owned property at the end of Kensington Street.

But this is just one of several incorrect portrayals of what’s really going on. I’ve also found references made by members of the bike community to Riverdale’s intention of cutting off or blocking the MRT. Again, that’s not true.

In fact, we want people to use the MRT. As it was originally designed. Ride in at 42nd Street and Duck Creek, peddle behind the Havens Acres neighborhood to Bellingham Road, cross State Street at the federally-approved bike crossing that’s there and then continue down the MRT back into Bettendorf.

But trail users want to be able to make a connection between the MRT and the DCBT and for them, the option of turning left at Brenny’s when they cross State Street isn’t a good option. Some – including the board of the Quad City Bike Club – feel the crossing at State Street isn’t safe.

That’s understandable. It’s common sense that going under a road is safer than going over a road. But to me, this is more about making a desperate argument to forestall the inevitable fence and gate that will be installed over the connector at Kensington Street than it is about safety.

In the nearly 2-1/2 years I’ve been mayor, I’ve received 0 complaints from bike riders or pedestrians about the safety of the Belligham/State Street intersection. During the same time, I’ve received over 400 calls from residents in Havens Acres complaining about bike and pedestrian traffic on Kensington. Recently, I was told that on a good day now, residents in the neighborhood are seeing between 500 and 1,000 people bike, walk or jog up and down Kensington Street.

And therein lies another problem.

Anecdotal claims are interesting, but not necessarily helpful. Is there a lot more bike and pedestrian traffic on Kensington when it’s a nice weekend day? I don’t doubt that. How much more? I don’t know.

I will tell you this, though, I’ve seen bike riders ride through a resident’s yard to get from the MRT to the street. I’ve seen the disrespect shown both directions. And I’ve seen glass and broken rock put on the connector between Kensington and the MRT.

And I’ve seen how the bike community talks about the residents of Riverdale on social media.

None of those things are helpful or acceptable.

So, What Do We Really Know?

Here is a message I sent to a resident who was “ashamed” of Riverdale’s decision. I understand her point. She says she worked with the residents who managed to bring the MRT into reality nearly ten years ago and she’s a frequent user of both bike paths and the connector between them on Kensington Street. But just as she’s questioned residents about the claims they’ve made associating neighborhood crime with the MRT, she makes similarly questionable claims of her own.

All I have to go on is what I’ve seen first-hand and the people I’ve spoken to, personally. These are the things I think are fairly certain about this situation:

1. There has been persistent trespassing by people using the trails:

•  I’ve spoken to bike riders who have apologized for cutting through the city-owned lot before there was a cement connector path for about 3 years.

•  The existence of the connector trail, itself, speaks to the persistent trespassing across the city-owned lot. I’ve spoken with our maintenance man, George Miller, who recalled being instructed on multiple occasions to re-seed and restore the goat path/cow trail the bikers and pedestrians had created on the city-owned lot. He said the City finally had Kenny Mahler just pave the path to cut down on the mud and debris being left in Kensington Street.

•  I’ve seen photography of tire tracks across Mike Steen’s yard from the MRT to Kensington (or, possibly the other direction)

•  I’ve personally witnessed a biker pedal across someone’s yard on Wisteria to make his way from the MRT to the city street.

2. There are not good records of the intentions or plan for the MRT or for the connector path in the City’s archives. According to what I’ve been told by previous mayors, there has been long-standing reluctance to document things because of the City’s history of litigation.

3. The QCTimes report on the original extension of the MRT in 2012 documented the Havens Acres neighborhood’s resistance to the path and their request for a fence to keep people from cutting through the city-owned lot at the end of Kensington.

4. That same article quoted the mayor at the time (Jack Franklin) saying he recommended the fence, but the City Council didn’t vote for it.

5. I personally witnessed previously-elected officials disparaging residents in the Havens Acres neighborhood as being poorer, unintelligent and not worth the effort when it came to dealing with this issue.

8. Home values in the neighborhood have not changed appreciably in the 8 years since the MRT was put in. In fact, the City’s assessed property values have not changed significantly in either direction since the total elimination of the state’s M&E tax in the early 2000s.

Where Do We Go From Here?

I will continue to meet with the Quad City Bike Club and other area bike clubs to make sure they understand that Riverdale will work with them to address the concerns of their members when they’re in our city. That’s an obligation of any elected representative and it’s the right thing to do. One of the first things we’ll be working on is improving and replacing signage for trail users so they have a better understanding of how to make the connection between the trails safely and efficiently.

I will also meet with Bi-State this week to discuss setting up a traffic study at the connector between the MRT and Kensington Street so we can get an accurate count of peak traffic volumes using the connector (and Kensington Street) between the two trails. This will be an inconvenience for residents in Havens Acres (again) for a period of time, but the data collected is really important.

The City has good relationships with both the City of Bettendorf and the Iowa DOT. If there is going to be any work performed on alternate connection routes, those parties need to be a part of the conversation. The north side of State Street (between Duck Creek and Brenny’s) is in Bettendorf and the sidewalk on the south side of State Street (between the Pancake House and Bellingham) is almost entirely within the Iowa DOT’s right of way for Hwy 67.

And here’s the thing, the very first question they’re going to ask is: “How many people are we talking about, anyway?” If we want to make sure something happens, we need hard numbers, not anecdotal claims that opposing sides will question whether they’re accurate or not.

I will continue to reach out to the businesses affected by this decision. There is an impact felt by both the Duck Creek Pancake House and My Place – and we need to be a constructive partner in helping find and develop a solution.

And finally, we need to realize that we have an obligation to work through this issue in its entirety. We can’t just build a fence and call it a day. We need to understand and respect the concerns raised by bikers and walkers on the MRT – and if there’s a way to help them feel safe making the connection between trails while they’re in Riverdale, we owe that to the community at-large. But, by the same token, I am responsible to the City and its residents to make sure our homeowners feel safe in their homes and to reduce or remove nuisances that make the “quiet enjoyment” of their neighborhood difficult.

Nobody is happy now. Nobody is likely to be happy once we’ve worked out a solution. But then again, maybe that’s how we know things were handled equitably?

More Comments from Unhappy Bikers

Here are some of the comments I’ve seen in the past day or two. There are new ones out on Facebook now, more misstatements and misinformation. Some of it, I’m sure, is unintentional (it’s not a particularly easy subject to research and understand if you don’t live here already). But a lot of it is just trying to wind people up.

So, spoiler warning, a lot of these comments say nasty things about Riverdale, Havens Acres residents and me. If that is likely to upset you, don’t waste your time reading them.

We need a hand to open our playgrounds this summer …

We need a hand to open our playgrounds this summer …

“We’re in this together.”

Does that sound familiar? It should. It’s the catch-phrase that so many organizations, businesses and public officials are using as a rallying cry to the American public as we deal with the widespread, public health and economic crisis.

As a guy who creates slogans and catch-phrases for a living, I can tell you that the best of them are the ones that appeal to your common sense. They just sound true when they are said. And you are able to see yourself “Just Doing It” or “Doing Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.”

And, yes, I just called “The Golden Rule” a catch-phrase. That King James had some pretty great copywriters on his staff.

“We’re In This Together” reminds us that by working together, we (all of humanity, really, since this is a pandemic we’re talking about) can accomplish amazing things. That idea holds up on all different levels. Even when you break it down to a small city the size of Riverdale. 

Especially when we’re talking about our smallest residents.

 

Riverdale Needs Your Help

As you may have noticed, I’ve proposed to the City Council that we take some extra precautions when we try to re-open our playgrounds and community gathering spots in June. These precautions are intended to help keep the most vulnerable among us safe from the unintended spread of the coronavirus.

“Social spread” of the coronavirus is a particularly difficult problem. It’s been shown that people can infect others before they even show any symptoms of the illness. This is of particular concern with children – who may have and spread the virus and never show signs of contracting it.

As a result, schools, parks and playgrounds were closed during the public health emergency declarations and now cities and states are trying to figure out the best way to re-open them and not create a surge in COVID-19 infections as an unintended consequence. A big part of the problem, though, is that many of the “customers” of our parks and playgrounds are too young to understand or practice effective distancing measures without a little encouragement and reinforcement.

That’s why the Riverdale plan for re-opening our playgrounds includes the introduction of PLAYGROUND GUIDES. Just like public swimming pools employ lifeguards to provide instruction and ensure safety, I envision Riverdale’s PLAYGROUND GUIDES doing much the same thing in our playgrounds in Bicentennial Park and Peggy’s Park.

While it would be nice to have volunteers provide this service, I think we have to be realistic and not expect that to actually happen – at least not all the time. For that reason, I’ve asked the Council to authorize up to $10,000 in expenses this summer to cover the cost of part-time wages and provide supplies and materials to our PLAYGROUND GUIDES (whether they’re paid or volunteers) so proper oversight and instruction can occur at our playgrounds.

Please take a look at the proposed guidelines here and participate in our discussion at City Hall at Tuesday’s Council Meeting – when the Council considers authorizing both the guidelines and the supplemental budget expenditure for the guides program this summer. 

Town Hall Meeting scheduled for Sunday, June 21, 2020 at 2pm

Town Hall Meeting scheduled for Sunday, May 24, 2020 at 2pm

The monthly Mayor’s Town Hall meeting is set for (May 24th) at 2pm.

The agenda for the meeting follows:

MAYOR’S TOWN HALL MEETING
Riverdale City Hall, 110 Manor Drive
Meeting To Be Held Online via GoToMeeting
Citizens can attend online or via phone.

DATE:    Sunday May 24th, 2020
TIME:    2:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.

THE MAYOR’S TOWN HALL MEETING IS A PUBLIC INTAKE SESSION FOR THE MAYOR, RESIDENTS OF RIVERDALE AND ANY OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES. THE PURPOSE OF THE MEETING IS TO INFORM RESIDENTS, ANSWER QUESTIONS AND TO GATHER INPUT ABOUT CITY ISSUES AFFECTING THE RESIDENTS OF RIVERDALE.

Agenda:

1. Welcome

2. Current Issues:

A. MRT fence in Havens Acres 
B. Sanitary sewer work on Fenno to start on 05/26 
C. Administrative/staff search next steps 
D. Budget amendments to the FY 20 budget 
E. Meals-to-Go program 
F. Proposed guidelines for parks, playgrounds and community meeting spaces

3. Comments/Questions from the Public

4. Adjourn

An official version of the agenda can be viewed on the public notice bulletin boards in the City or in staff offices at City Hall during regular business hours.

Please come with your thoughts, comments and fresh ideas!

See you then!

Attending the Meeting Online

To attend the Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting on Sun, May 24, 2020 (from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM), just join the meeting from your computer, tablet or smart phone by clicking on the button or this link. You can access the meeting by using the access code: 569-793-517

Not comfortable joining online? You can dial into the meeting with your phone, just call: (872) 240-3212 and use the access code (569-793-517) when prompted.

Please Note: It’s highly recommended you get the GoToMeeting app and install it on your computer before the meeting starts so you’ll be ready when we begin.

Just go to: https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/569793517 to download the app.

Riverdale’s playgrounds and community room will remain closed through May.

Riverdale’s playgrounds and community room will remain closed through May.

I’ve just posted this to the bulletin boards in Riverdale. Please take a moment to read it …

One month ago, I decided to extend the shutdown of the parks, playgrounds, and community room for the City of Riverdale through today, May 15, 2020. At that time, I said that the shutdown would be extended if, in my opinion, the health and well-being of the community could be adversely affected by the unintended spread of COVID-19 should groups of citizens gather at a public meeting spot.

I’m sorry to say that even though some cities and counties in Iowa have chosen to re-open parks and community spaces, neither the state nor Scott County have seen a decline in COVID-19 cases for 14 days in a row (in fact, cases in Scott County are rising slowly) and as a result, I’ve decided to continue keeping the City’s playgrounds and community room closed to the public.  I will re-visit this decision again at the end of the Month (May 31st) and will update the public via email, our website and public postings.

Recognizing the need for our residents to move and get out of the house, however, I am authorizing the use of city parks and trails for hiking, dog-walking and similar activities as long as residents maintain a minimum of six feet of distance between groups (hiking with your family members as a group is fine). Please do not linger in places. Keep moving and keep your distance.

In the meantime, I will be working with residents and members of the City Council to come up with guidelines that will allow the limited use of our playgrounds and community room. I hope to present these guidelines at our next City Council Meeting on May 26th.

It’s my hope these guidelines will limit the possibility of viral spread between people in our public spaces – but will allow residents to enjoy the benefits of friendship and fellowship with their neighbors.

Please continue to follow developments of this and other Riverdale-related news on our website: www.riverdaleiowa.com and through our weekly e-newsletter.

Stay safe and healthy – we’ll be seeing you soon!

Will Riverdale’s playgrounds open soon? Not yet, but there is hope!

Will Riverdale’s playgrounds open soon? Not yet, but there is hope!

So, I’ve been asked about whether or not Riverdale will be re-opening our Community Room and Parks/Playgrounds on Friday. The short answer is “no” but there’s a more in-depth explanation I’d like to share with all of you (I posted this on the Riverdale Residents page just a few minutes ago) …
 
“I’ve asked a select group of citizens known as “The Playground Users’ Group” (all kids between 5th and 10th grade) to create a set of guidelines they can live by that will explain how they’ll socially distance, what kinds of games they’ll be playing and how they’ll educate and encourage other kids at the playground to play safe.
 
If they can come up with the guidelines, I’ll review them and we’ll figure out a plan to re-open the playgrounds and parks. Right now, though, I’m going to temporarily extend our shut downs to the end of the month and start working on guidelines for limited (and safe) use of the Community Room, Gazebo and Park Shelters while my 10-15 year-old colleagues work on the playground rules.”
 
I’m quite concerned that removing the restrictions on our public places will seemingly minimize the threat posed by COVID-19 that still exists today as much (or more) than it did a month or two ago when we enacted the restrictions in the first place. By the same token, I know that it will become increasingly difficult for people to stay sheltered in place for even more weeks – especially if there’s no end in sight.
 
I believe there’s a third option and that requires a combination of discipline and ingenuity.
 
What I’ve asked our “Playground Users’ Group” to do is give me guidelines they think they can live within. This is important – especially with kids – because while many kids may never contract COVID-19 this year, they can spread it from one kid to another (at the playground) and carry the virus back into the home where it could infect an at-risk adult or senior member of the family. By giving these youngsters an opportunity to become part of the “solution” to the problem, we not only give them the possibility of playing outside again (responsibly), but we teach them that they can work with local government to make things happen that are important to them.
 
Call it a 2-fer-1 education in social and biological sciences. A teachable moment. Or, for some parents, a chance to finally get the kids out from in front of the TV.
 
I’ll let you know how things go.
Town Hall Meeting scheduled for Sunday, June 21, 2020 at 2pm

Town Hall Meeting scheduled for Sunday, April 26, 2020 at 2pm

The monthly Mayor’s Town Hall meeting is set for (April 26th) at 2pm.

The agenda for the meeting follows:

MAYOR’S TOWN HALL MEETING
Riverdale City Hall, 110 Manor Drive
Meeting To Be Held Online via GoToMeeting
Citizens can attend online or via phone.

DATE:    Sunday April 26th, 2020
TIME:    2:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.

THE MAYOR’S TOWN HALL MEETING IS A PUBLIC INTAKE SESSION FOR THE MAYOR, RESIDENTS OF RIVERDALE AND ANY OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES. THE PURPOSE OF THE MEETING IS TO INFORM RESIDENTS, ANSWER QUESTIONS AND TO GATHER INPUT ABOUT CITY ISSUES AFFECTING THE RESIDENTS OF RIVERDALE.

Agenda:

1. Welcome

2. Current Issues:

A. Proposed no-interest loan program to Riverdale-based, small businesses due to COVID-19

B. Meal program for seniors and low-to-moderate income households with the Duck Creek Pancake House

C. Construction projects get off to an early start

D. What would you like to see at City Hall?

3. Comments/Questions from the Public

4. Adjourn

An official version of the agenda can be viewed on the public notice bulletin boards in the City or in staff offices at City Hall during regular business hours.

Please come with your thoughts, comments and fresh ideas!

See you then!

Attending the Meeting Online

To attend the Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting on Sun, April 26, 2020 (from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM), just join the meeting from your computer, tablet or smart phone by clicking on the button or this link. You can access the meeting by using the access code: 722-789-837

Not comfortable joining online? You can dial into the meeting with your phone, just call: (571) 317-3122 and use the access code (592-413-805) when prompted.

Please Note: It’s highly recommended you get the GoToMeeting app and install it on your computer before the meeting starts so you’ll be ready when we begin.

Just go to: https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/592413805 to download the app.

You had budget questions. Here are the answers.

You had budget questions. Here are the answers.

At the last City Council meeting (on March 24th), members of the Council expressed concern that more people didn’t participate in the public hearing on the FY 21 budget. As a result, we decided to make sure every resident was informed about the availability of the budget document and provided multiple ways for them to make inquiries.

Three people expressed interest in doing so.

There were a number of questions raised by former City Council Members, Cheryl Channon and Jim Beran. Wendy Syverud has also asked for a copy of some budget preparation documents and I’ve tried to get them to her – although that hasn’t been as simple as it should be. I still look forward to hearing from Wendy with any questions or insights she might have.

The main focus of questions from Cheryl and Jim were about the sewer fees and sewer payments in the budget. These are big items:

•    Sewer Fees and their projected increase are located on line 10 (Charges for Fees & Service). In FY19, we collected about $70,000 andour re-estimated FY20 collections are shown as $123,000. The FY20 number is close, but the FY19 figure seems to be missing about half of the revenue.

•    Sanitary Sewer Costs and the improvements we’re making to the sanitary sewer in 2020 are shown on line 25. The figure for FY21 includes our estimated cost of operating the joint sewer line, the cost of service, the cost of financing improvements to our own sewer and setting aside some money to re-build our depleted Sewer Fund. The re-estimated cost of $0 in FY20 is wrong and the Actual FY19 costs of $123,122 looks to be about right (which is why I assume about half of the revenue is in the wrong line in the FY19 report).

All that being said, here’s a summary of the questions from Cheryl and Jim:

Q. What are the actual estimated costs for the sewer since we show such a dramatic increase in fees and costs in FY21. How do we expect citizens to pay for this?

A. The best I could do for the FY21 budget is estimate those costs based on notes I’ve taken at our joint sewerage committee meetings, notes from prior Council Meetings, a review of the current state of the Sewer Fund for the City and email correspondence with the State Auditor as to the best way to track and manage all of this.

The City uses about 150 million gallons of water in its sanitary sewer each year. The rate for that is around $1.86/thousand gallons – although we charge less than that currently. The difference is made up out of our Sewer Fund (more on that later). Under the new 28E agreement we signed, we will have some additional expenses associated with managing our sanitary sewer that relate to the operations of the sewage treatment plant in Davenport.

Remember, the alternative to paying our fair share for operating the sewage treatment plant is to build our own – and we have neither the space or the funds to do that.

In addition to the operating costs of the plant and our share of the plant upgrades, we have to work on our own sanitary sewer lines and in 2019, we arranged for the General Fund to loan the Sewer Fund $150,000 for the first phase of this work (which will get underway shortly). That money was loaned to the fund at a 2.15% interest rate (same rate we get at the bank), but it’s not clear to me when that money switched funds (if ever). To add to the complexity of “how much does it cost” we need to consider slowly re-building our Sewer Fund since we shouldn’t have to loan it money to operate.

When it’s all said and done, the cost for sanitary sewer service in Riverdale should be between $500 – $600k/year through FY27. For the FY21 budget, all I did was take the FY20 estimated revenue and multiply it by 5 and then round up a bit. This would increase everyone’s sewer bill from $15 a quarter to $75 a quarter ($25 a month) which, compared to Bettendorf (around $37/month) and Davenport (around $42/month) is still pretty competitive.

Here’s the silver lining, though. We’ll be getting a proposal from BFA to go through all of the records on this and build a clear, accurate financial model of what the costs are and where the rates really SHOULD be. My hope is that work will be done by the time we’ve been able to pull together a Utilities Commission made of residents and local businesses to review those costs and rates and help us set them at a level that’s considered reasonable by all.

For the budget, I estimated high so the Commission would have the latitude to come in with a lower recommendation if they felt it was justified. Budgeting low and then having to go through a number of additional hoops to revise the budget to accommodate higher rates seemed like a bad idea to me.

Q. Why aren’t improvements to the sanitary sewer line and operational/capital costs for the joint sewer line paid for out of the General Fund like any other public works project?

A. I spoke to the State Auditor about this. While sanitary sewers are “pipes in the ground” and one would think that makes them a public works project, the sanitary sewer isn’t a service that everyone in the City enjoys and, more importantly, the service itself is paid for by a user fee, not property taxes.

The Auditor agreed that the money used for sanitary sewer services (both the revenue and the expenses – whether their for our own local lines or our share of the jointly owned line – should be reported as an Enterprise Fund/Business Type Activity (Sewer Utility Fund). Here’s what Suzanne Dahlstrom wrote to me this past week:

Even though the City of Riverdale doesn’t operate the Sewer System themselves, they are still responsible for their portion of costs associated with ongoing operations, maintenance and upgrades to the sanitary sewer system through the 28E agreement. Therefore I agree it should be reported as an Enterprise Fund/Business Type Activity (Sewer Utility Fund). Chapter 384.84 provides for the collection of rates at least sufficient to pay the expenses of operation and maintenance of the city utility and requires rates to be established by ordinance of the council .

I’m not aware of anything that prohibits the City from paying for sewer improvements from the General Fund however, I wouldn’t recommend it in your case. As you indicated, the Council would essentially be budgeting sewer improvements through the General Fund tax levy, which not all your resident will be benefiting from. And since you’ve already established for the collection of non-tax sewer rates for the 2BE payments, it makes sense to budget for these improvements through the Sewer Utility/Enterprise Fund/Business Type Activity function.

You are handling this issue very appropriately.

Q. The line in the budget for Debt Service (Line 22) shows an amount of $316,813. Does that include the management fee?

A. I took that information from the debt schedule Ron Fullerlove had prepared years ago and the other numbers matched previous budgets and AFRs, so I believe it does.

Q. Why does the re-estimated FY20 budget show $0 for Business Type/Enterprises (Line 25)?

A. I have no idea why the budget was re-estimated that way. That’s where our sewer fees, etc. should be. Apparently, the budget was originally put together showing no costs on that line from the beginning – which is odd since this question came from the person responsible for putting that budget together with the Clerk.

The bigger point Cheryl is making with most of her questions, though, is valid. She raised a concern that we are over-spending on our budget and not amending the budget properly to avoid citizen complaints.

She has also pointed out that our capital projects budget in the current FY21 budget isn’t high enough to cover the road improvement project in Havens Acres and the sewer re­ lining project (Phase 1 of the Sewer Rehab project). The reason for that is that while part of the Road Rehabilitation project will occur in FY20, the Sewer Re-Lining Project is expected to occur in FY21 and be paid for out of the Sewer Fund and not the General Fund.

Q. What’s the plan for FY20 budget amendments?

A. Cheryl is right in saying we need to address possible budget overruns for FY20 sooner rather than later. In fact, my plan has been to take a look at the current budget once FY21 gets approved and prepare a series of budget amendments for either our next Council meeting (04/28) or the following one (05/12) to make sure time is allowed for a public hearing (if needed) and to get the amendments in to the State of Iowa by the May 31 deadline.

Q. Does the new budget include revised mowing and landscaping costs?

A. Yes.

Disaster-palooza

Disaster-palooza

Excuse me while I take a breather for a minute …

We’re not even 90 days into 2020 and I think we’ve set a record for “bad news” in Riverdale.

The thing that people love most about living in Riverdale always seemed (to me, at least) to be that other than an awesome fireworks show, the occasional Eagle Scout project and astoundingly good hose-fighting team of firemen, not much happened here.

And people liked it that way.

Sure, we had our occasional kerfuffle or two. And we had a newspaper editor claim that we’d TIF a stop sign if we could get away with it (we can’t and we didn’t … although the editor actually apologized for that statement when we met with him and his boss). But, for the most part, Riverdale lived up to its reputation for living under the radar by making sure not much happened here.

If ALCOA (and now Arconic) was a “quiet neighbor” … we were a “quiet city.”

Then “Hello, 2020!”

We’ve had to deal with the tragedy of violent gun violence, the loss of a young firefighter taken before her time, the confusion of gaining and then losing a city administrator, the back-and-forth of an on-again/off-again/now on-again threat of flooding, the palpable fear (and consequences) of an international pandemic, and now (as of Friday), a flash flood that put water into people’s basements and mud into our streets and intersections.

Was it something I said?

All kidding aside, I do want to say a few things to make sure you know the City Council, our staff and volunteers and I are all in this with you.

Riverdale faces a unique situation. In our 60-year history, we have never tried to do so much in such a short amount of time. And now, with all of these “disasters” thrown at us in one way, shape or form, we’re more determined than ever to make progress and share that progress with you. 

As many of you know, I am self-employed. Last week, my clients (many of whom are outside the QC area) told me they were having to “go dark” for a while. Maybe as much as 90 days. In the span of a week, I lost all my clients.

Figures. Doesn’t it?

Well, the silver lining to that situation is the fact that now I have some more time to work on city-related issues and projects. And with an occasional “lifeline” call to friend-of-the-city, Lisa Kotter, and the patience and persistence of volunteers and Council Member, I think we can make some big strides even while the rest of the world is operating under a self-imposed exile.

If you don’t know what we’re up to, I suggest you check out the agenda of a City Council meeting. It’s sure to be packed with Resolutions (formal actions taken by the City Council) but, more importantly, you’ll see more than a page of “discussion items.” These are the things we’re working on. The things the Council is considering. And nearly every item has some memo or other piece of correspondence that provides more detail.

You’ll find all of those memos and back-up information in the City Council Packets linked to the page for each, corresponding Council Meeting. You’ll probably find even more information about those projects (as they develop and mature) on this website.

Take your time. Check out the over 260 pages of updates, articles and galleries celebrating life in Riverdale over the last three years. 

It’s not a disaster. It’s our destiny in the making.

Take care. Stay healthy. And live strong. We’ll get through all of this together.

Mike

Town Hall Meeting scheduled for Sunday, June 21, 2020 at 2pm

Meeting Notice: Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting is set for Sunday (March22nd) at 2pm.

The monthly Mayor’s Town Hall meeting is set for (March 22nd) at 2pm.

The agenda for the meeting follows:

MAYOR’S TOWN HALL MEETING
Riverdale City Hall, 110 Manor Drive
Meeting To Be Held Online via GoToMeeting
Citizens can attend online or via phone.

DATE:    Sunday March 22, 2020
TIME:    2:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.

THE MAYOR’S TOWN HALL MEETING IS A PUBLIC INTAKE SESSION FOR THE MAYOR, RESIDENTS OF RIVERDALE AND ANY OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES. THE PURPOSE OF THE MEETING IS TO INFORM RESIDENTS, ANSWER QUESTIONS AND TO GATHER INPUT ABOUT CITY ISSUES AFFECTING THE RESIDENTS OF RIVERDALE.

Agenda:

1. Welcome

2. Current Issues:

A. FY 21 Budget Q&A (for a detailed budget breakdown, click here)

B. Future public meetings while dealing with COVID-19

3. Comments/Questions from the Public

4. Adjourn

An official version of the agenda can be viewed on the public notice bulletin boards in the City or in staff offices at City Hall during regular business hours.

Please come with your thoughts, comments and fresh ideas!

See you then!

Attending the Meeting Online

To attend the Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting on Sun, Mar 22, 2020 (from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM), just join the meeting from your computer, tablet or smart phone by clicking on the button or this link. You can access the meeting by using the access code: 722-789-837

Not comfortable joining online? You can dial into the meeting with your phone, just call: (872) 240-3412 and use the access code (722-789-837) when prompted.

Please Note: It’s highly recommended you get the GoToMeeting app and install it on your computer before the meeting starts so you’ll be ready when we begin.

Just go to: https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/722789837 to download the app.

Looking for something to do while you’re at home? Complete your online census form, today!

Looking for something to do while you’re at home? Complete your online census form, today!

Looking for something to do while you wait out the coronavirus pandemic at home?

Well, those census surveys aren’t going to fill themselves out. In fact, that friendly census-taker you were expecting to show up at your door to help you isn’t going to be stopping by in the foreseeable future, either.

According to this news release from the US Census Bureau, field operations have been suspended for the next two weeks (until April 1) – and, I believe, that suspension is likely to be extended until concerns over “community spread” are addressed. But even though the door-to-door operation has been delayed, that doesn’t mean you can’t do your part to make sure Riverdale gets fully counted this census year.

As of March 18th, over eleven million Americans had already completed the census online – and you can do the same.  According to the bureau:

The public is strongly encouraged to respond to the 2020 Census online using a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet, and can also respond by phone or mail. Everyone should respond to the 2020 Census as soon as they receive their invitation — and when they’re finished, they can make sure their friends, families and social networks know about the importance of responding.

It has never been easier to respond to the census, and the 2020 Census will count everyone accurately. We recognize that many people plan to access the 2020 Census through other response modes, such as phone or paper, which is why the 2020 Census has such a nimble design.

It’s vitally important to the City (and to the State of Iowa) that everyone participate in this year’s census. The answers you give today will affect federal and state funding for Riverdale for the next ten years – and we need all the help we can get.

Even if you can only help from home.

Please take the survey today.

How do we handle a global pandemic?

How do we handle a global pandemic?

To many people, it may seem like the media frenzy surrounding the outbreak of Coronavirus is overblown and causing undue panic. And while there is a greater sense of urgency about this outbreak of a new virus, I’d like to share with you why I think it’s valid for us all to be concerned and take some rather simple actions now that could keep things from spiraling out of control.

What’s all the fuss?

COVID-19 (known commonly as the coronavirus) is more than just “a bad flu” – in fact, with a mortality rate of 1-2% of those infected, COVID-19 has the potential of killing 10x to 20x the rate of the regular flu. And because no one has ever had this virus before, no one is yet immune to the disease.

The World Health Organization projects that 40-70% of the world’s population will be infected with COVID-19 by the time a vaccine is finally developed. That’s a pretty staggering statistic – and it might lead some people to think there’s nothing that can be done. That’s where panic can seize hold and exaggerate the problems we’re already facing in terms of community health and economic vitality.

You see, there are things we can do to slow the spread of the disease. While we may end up with half of the people on the planet becoming infected, we’ll be able to take care of those most significantly afflicted if we succeed in “flattening the curve” of infections. That means slowing the spread of the disease enough to avoid overloading our hospitals so there are enough ICU beds and ventilators to go around.

What can we do about it?

Whether you believe the scientist and health officials’ warnings or you believe it’s all just media hype – taking the following steps will help protect the most vulnerable ones in our society:

• Because of delays in the availability of testing, we assume that the virus is already here. Do not attend social gatherings or events if you cannot maintain a 6-foot space between you and others. Businesses, organizations and families should cancel or postpone social gatherings/community events of 250 people or more now. This is to prevent transmission from person-to-person, it applies to all of us and all kinds of gatherings. The size of permissible events will drop steeply as cases are identified and local transmission is established in the metro area.

• If you develop COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), you must call ahead to your medical provider or walk-in clinic. You must not go to an office, clinic or walk-in without giving them the chance to protect their staff and other patients if you are infected.

• Avoid non-essential travel. If you must travel locally, regionally or beyond, know if the virus is spreading at your destination. This will reduce your risk of becoming infected and allow you to defer travel if your destination is experiencing sustained person-to-person transmission. State and local health departments at your destination will know and their web sites will contain the information.

• The need for primary and secondary school closures is being assessed. We completely understand the impacts of these closings — the need for childcare, disruptions of programs like school lunch and many other things. Fortunately, we are entering spring break and have time to think about this in consultation with key stakeholders.

• Stay home if you are sick. Contact your provider by phone or online for advice. Protect the people you live with using the commonsense steps below.

• Take these measures to protect yourself and others. Most are common sense and, maybe more important, good manners.

• Clean your hands often. Soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds are best. This is important especially after you touch surfaces like doorknobs and railings that might be contaminated by the coughs and sneezes of others. This removes and kills the virus. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers work but are second best to soap and water.

• Keep your unwashed hands away from your face and eyes where the virus gets in.

• Avoid close contact with other people, especially if they have signs of a cold or flu. If you don’t come into contact with the virus, you won’t get sick. Best evidence tells us that about 6 feet of separation will be effective.

• Again, stay home if you’re sick — don’t risk giving the virus to others.

Cover coughs and sneezes, preferably using your elbow or disposable tissues, not your hands.

• Clean surfaces that may be contaminated using standard household disinfectants. They work.

• Make sure you have the medical supplies you need for self-care.

• Don’t panic — it doesn’t help. If we work together we will weather this.

• Access reliable information from public health experts, especially your state and local health departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• Avoid spreading misinformation from unreliable sources in broadcast and social media and the internet.

You’ll find even more recommendations and a clear-eyed assessment of the situation locally from Dr. Louis Katz, the medical director of the Scott County Health Department.

What are we doing about it?

Finally, there are steps even the City of Riverdale can take to help forestall the spread of COVID-19 in the Quad Cities. Although no cases have been reported yet, it is inevitable coronavirus will appear here. Thankfully, community leaders have formed a task force of elected officials, city/county professionals and health experts (including our local healthcare organizations, both private and public) to address this very fluid situation.

Last Friday, I was in attendance at the press conference held by the COVID-19 Coalition. As a result of that press conference and several other meetings held in both Scott County and Rock Island County, we will also be participating in daily briefing calls of elected officials to make sure we’re aware of the latest news concerning public health and the spread of this virus.

Meetings will be held this week with public health officials and school superintendents in Iowa to discuss school closure plans following spring break week. We’ll share that news as soon as we become aware of it. Look for announcements on the City’s website and the Riverdale Residents Facebook Page.  

Elected officials will also be reviewing plans for public events at our next City Council meeting (on March 24) to determine if any of them need to be delayed or cancelled. Most notably, the first event we’ll need to discuss will be the Egg Hunt in Peggy’s Park scheduled for April 4th.