It’s an odd thing when a political party, so confident in its ability to lead, is so coy when it comes to announcing its intentions to run candidates for re-election. If 2011 wasn’t hint enough that the Riverside Community Alliance was a one-hit wonder, then their silence in the fall of 2012 should surely have been a sign that one term was enough.
The last time the RCA was great with mass communication was immediately preceding the election of its slate of four candidates in 2009. It was a slick campaign, full of the kind of language people who were worried about a teetering economy and the prospect of increased taxes wanted to hear.
“We’ll hold the line on spending.”
“We’ll hold the line on taxes.”
“Heck, we’ll seek to lower taxes.”
“We’ll do a top-down audit and find those savings.”
Immediately following the election, the RCA didn’t do mass communication so well. Some would say it didn’t do much communicating at all, unless it was by formal statement.
That was the way the party announced it was not going to run candidates in 2013. They had come to Riverside’s rescue as planned and are now leaving the scene, bestowing a template for success for future boards to follow.
Just for the record, that template includes the following:
- Property tax increases every year
- Increased operations expenditures
- Increased personnel costs
- Failing to plan funding for long-term capital needs
- No plan for economic development
According to the budget just adopted by the village board last month, total expenditures in the village’s general operating fund are projected to be about $8.34 million in 2013. That’s a 15.3 percent increase from 2009’s $7.34 million in expenses.
Personnel costs, meanwhile, are projected to increase 18.6 percent during that same period, while property tax collections will increase almost 5 percent. The village also, through aggressive enforcement and raising the rate, increased vehicle sticker tax collection by more than 100 percent since 2009.
The RCA’s failure to plan for capital expenses has simply punted the responsibility to the next board. Their “we’ll look at problems as they come along” philosophy on capital expenses was no template at all.
As for economic development, the party promised in 2009 to attract new businesses. A key component of that was to hire “a professional who specializes in leveraging the assets of historic communities to attract businesses.” That plan got a little lip service for two years and then faded away completely.
What the RCA did do was create a template for micromanaging staff and voting as a bloc to shove through pet ideas, from the composition of sidewalk cement to an audacious attempt to seize the assets of the Riverside Department of Parks and Recreation.
That last gambit blew up in their faces and likely sealed their fate for a second term in 2010 — all for something that now doesn’t have a prayer of surviving past 2013.
Their real legacy, one they can hang their hats on, is the removal of the Hofmann Dam and, more importantly, the reclamation of Swan Pond Park. That is something to celebrate.
Their template for the future? Not so much.