Meet Coralville At Large Council Candidate Cindy Riley
Name: Cindy Riley
Address: 734 14th Ave., Coralville
Seat seeking: At Large
Occupation: Owner/Manager, Winans Chocolates & Coffees, Coralville
Educational background: B.S. Computer Science and B.S. Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State; M.S. Agricultural Education Sciences with minor/certification in Human Computer Interactions, Iowa State.
Why are you running for council?
Riley: I have a long history in the Coralville area. I grew up in this area and I strongly believe Coralville is a community worth investing in. I attended Northwest JR High and West High School and I currently have a small business in Coralville, Winans Chocolates & Coffees. Having a small business here has given me first hand experience in how to establish and grow a small business in Coralville. I want to build a strong economy that will give Coralville residents the opportunity to earn a good wage and raise a family in a beautiful Iowa town. I want to make Coralville a place where families are excited about living and raising a family.
What are the three largest issues facing the city? How will you address them?
Riley: 1) How are we going to pay off the debt? This issue will need careful management. The plan currently in place will need to be watched carefully. Every new decision must take into consideration the affect it will have on our debt.
2) Public transit. In order for Coralville residents to have access to jobs and services, we need a strong public transit system. I support more bike trails, better bike lanes, Sunday bus routes and more services out of the Intermodal Transportation Center including continued investigation into light rail opportunities.
3) Affordable housing and affordable child care. I support working with local housing agencies to track and measure both housing and child care services in Coralville. Then, put together a comprehensive community plan that offers full support of residents. Along with affordable housing, Coralville needs to ensure we have the support network we need to allow families to succeed in Coralville. This network must include fair tax rates, reasonable utility costs, a quality community food bank, good transportation options and assistance to understand how to use services to continue to move families forward with their lives.
Next summer, Coralville’s now 20-year-old tax increment finance district for Coral Ridge Mall expires, opening up millions in additional property tax revenue annually. For Coralville, that means about $2 million added each year to the general fund. How would you like to see that money used?
Riley: 1) Pay debt (principal and interest) — we must keep this on track
2) Schools — per recommendation of the school board, we need to ensure our teachers and children are supported
3) Improved transit — bike trails and trail maintenance and Sunday bus routes.
The Iowa River Landing continues to grow in Coralville, with housing, storefronts and a soon-to-begin arena project all taking place. However, some have questioned if the area should be offering more affordable housing opportunities. Is this something lacking — or are there other elements missing — in the IRL area? What do you want to see added as development continues?
Riley: Affordable housing is a high priority — all new development in Coralville needs to have specific plans to offer some affordable units.
I fully support the arena project and Coralville needs to commit to making this successful with continued promotion over the years. The Intermodal Transportation Center a key to making this happen and we should look at ways to connect arena event traffic to the public transits options the Center offers.
Coralville — and cities across Iowa — could face revenue losses as the state revenues remain tight. The state is threatening to do away with the backfill funds it provides to communities in an effort to balance its budget. How would you balance the city’s budget if the city were to lose funds? What funding priorities do you have?
Riley: A balanced budget is key to a city’s long-term sustainability. There are 2 fundamental levers to pull when balancing a budget — cut costs or increase revenue. Before increasing fees, taxes, etc., I would look very close at the cost lever. As with any business, when faced with revenue loss, the city must do a line-by-line analysis of expenditures. This line-by-line review highlights expenses that are available for trimming. When dealing with a well managed business it is hard to find significant savings in one category so I support a system wide belt tightening over targeting one department. We must not significantly cut basic safety services like Police, Fire, Health and Social Services but even in these categories we can look for savings.
Where do you see growth occurring in the city in coming years? What should the city do to manage it?
Riley: Growth along First Avenue will continue and we need to improve the traffic flow on 1st Ave to support it. This could include a light rail solution or additional services out of the Intermodal Transportation Center. I would also like to see a shared bike location on 1st ave and the trails to support a route from there to the University area.
We will likely see continued growth between Coralville and North Liberty and Tiffin. To support this, we need to support the improvement to ramps on/off I-380. We also need to ensure we have basic services in this area; grocery store, banking, fuel, etc.
What other big issues would you like to see the council address in the next few years?
Riley: Keep the infrastructure upgrades on track — As the community grows, the infrastructure must keep up — water processing (waste and fresh), utilities, winter road care — these type of issues don’t get a lot of publicity but are essential for a community to prepare for long term sustainability.
I would like to see some focus on ‘Old Town’ area in Coralville. The area between 1st Ave and 12th Ave and 5th St and the railroad tracks has seen significant remodeling of the single family homes in recent years and I think this area needs to be preserved and supported by the city. This area has a unique set of starter homes for young families and this can be an excellent way to attract workers to live in Coralville.