RIVERDALE -- City council members say they feel bullied into supporting a community drug prevention coalition.
"It is almost extortion for this money," Councilman Alan Arnold said. "People act almost shameful. People are flat-out mean."
Bonneville CTC coordinator Amy Mikkelsen recently asked the city council to adopt a new interlocal agreement for Communities That Care.
The Bonneville Cone CTC serves the cities that feed into Bonneville High School, namely Riverdale, South Ogden, Uintah and Washington Terrace. The collaborative group of youths, parents, schools, city leaders and law enforcement works together to prevent youths from engaging in risky behaviors, such as drug and alcohol use.
Riverdale council members and the mayor recalled that when the city signed its first interlocal agreement with CTC last year, they were told the city's $2,000 contribution would be a one-time arrangement and the city would not have to budget similar contributions in the future.
But Mikkelsen's recent request for a new interlocal agreement asked for another $2,000.
"Our goal is to keep sustainable, not drop off because we don't have money," Mikkelsen said.
The council voted to table a decision on the agreement until the city attorney could review the new language and the city could put the donation request on the regular budget session agenda.
"It wasn't budgeted for," Mayor Bruce Burrows said. "We're back to where we were a year ago: no additional money in our budget this year for this item. It looks to me like this is an entirely new interlocal agreement. There are terms of participation that were not in the first one."
City Attorney Steve Brooks agreed.
"There's enough changes that the impact is different," he said.
Councilmen Don Hunt and Mike Staten both said their first loyalty is to spending the taxpayers' money appropriately.
"To warrant the spending of taxpayer money on this scale, there has to be value for value," Hunt said. "On its face, it sounds like a great program. But the way it has been run has been less than what I want to see."
"The problem isn't the program, but the management of how this thing is going," said Arnold, who noted he has been criticized in the past for not attending CTC meetings as a city representative. Arnold asked Mikkelsen to schedule meetings at a more convenient time.
"This misbehavior is tarnishing your cause," Staten said. "To date, I haven't seen deliverables that I am impressed with on this program. It's great PR. It has worthy goals.
"But before I take money from our residents for a cause like this, I need to be sold on the real value of the cause, that it's more than just PR and a chance to get good press because we finally joined the bandwagon of this program."
Burrows said his city had experienced a "trial by media" when Riverdale was the last of the four cities to sign the initial CTC agreement.
Since Riverdale signed its agreement with CTC last year, Mikkelsen said, the group has accomplished many things, especially identifying the threats that face the community.
Using the SHARP survey administered by the state to public school students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12, Mikkelsen determined youths in the community are primarily abusing alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and prescription drugs. Now that the CTC understands the problems youths are having, they can create specific prevention measures.
CTC advocates told the city council that CTC is a process and that achieving measurable success could take up to five years.
Mikkelsen said CTC has applied for a $125,000 drug-free community federal grant, which would require a 100 percent match. Mikkelsen approached the Riverdale City Council to ask for continuing annual contributions to put toward the grant's match. Volunteer hours and in-kind donations can also be counted toward the match, she said. The grant could extend for five years.
"Right now is a critical time," Mikkelsen said. "We need to make sure the CTC remains viable, sustainable. We need to build a solid foundation."
Mikkelsen apologized for how council members had been treated, and said she would address the matter with the CTC key leader board.
"We should always show the utmost professionalism," she said. "We are not trying to force Riverdale's hand. We want Riverdale's participation. We want Riverdale's buy-in."