RIVERDALE -- The city council has agreed to hold a public hearing for an unbudgeted $2,000 contribution to a Communities That Care substance abuse prevention program for cities feeding into Bonneville High School.
It's a move that a prevention expert said may lead to receiving federal grants.
"The feds are pouring out money for tobacco, diabetes and teen pregnancy prevention, but their model is to give to prevention-ready communities. It's totally available to those who pull together," said Craig Povey, Riverdale resident and a vice president of the National Prevention Network.
Police Chief Dave Hansen convinced the city council that giving $2,000 to help fund a CTC coordinator would be a good investment for the city. He said Tooele and Brigham City have each implemented the program and seen positive results.
"I'm sold on the fact that it does change lives, and they have empirical data to substantiate it," he said. "The third and fourth year into the program, they saw significant changes in the behavior of kids going through the program versus those who had not. (Tooele and Brigham) had nothing but glowing admiration."
Hansen said the program brings together key community members to identify and eliminate substance abuse risk factors and is more comprehensive and could replace the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, moving some of the police department's administrative burden to the CTC coordinator. He said his only reservation is how much control Riverdale will have over the program, being just one of four cities involved.
South Ogden, Uintah and Washington Terrace have previously pledged support to the program, but Riverdale City Council hesitated because City Attorney Steve Brooks said it is illegal to make the contribution without "due process." He said because the program is not in this year's budget, the council needs to hold a public hearing and make a finding that the program serves a corporate purpose.
"We need to follow due process. We've been maligned in the newspaper for not participating, but that's not true. What we are is being careful," Mayor Bruce Burrows said.
Burrows said South Ogden and Washington Terrace officials have decided to hold public hearings as well.
Councilwoman Shelly Jenkins said advertising a public hearing may cost as much as funding the program itself and wondered if the council should wait and include the program in next year's budget.
"The police department is already involved in other programs that cost the city much more," she said. "It will cost as much money to deliberate it. We could put it in the budget like other programs. Can we justify the expense of doing it now?"
Weber-Morgan Human Services Director Kevin Eastman said the area may lose out on federal grants if cities are not "prevention-ready" before the grants are available in September. A grant could fund the program for up to five years and businesses may also contribute once they see a decrease in graffiti, Eastman said.
The council agreed with Councilman Alan Arnold that the program would serve a corporate purpose by reducing the costs associated with drugs and alcohol.
"We have a huge vested interest," he said, "Two thousand dollars is a drop in the bucket. It's $2,000. We can find it."