New River Falls Mayor Says City Finances Need Work


By Catalina Trivino

From Covington County -- People in River Falls move forward after their 91-year old mayor resigned following her arrest. And the city starts with a new mayor.

Last month, 91-year-old former River Falls mayor, Mary Hixon, plead guilty to theft of property and resigned after the Covington County District Attorney's office found discrepancies in how she spent $200,000 in city funds.

It was a shock to the community after former River Falls mayor Mary Hixon had served for more than 30 years. But now -- a new leader has taken her seat.

Patricia Gunter lost the mayor's race against Hixon back in August, as well as in 1996. Now, she has been appointed as the town's new mayor.

"I just really want to see the town move forward and I feel like we have missed so many opportunities and of course, there's a lot to be done, a lot to figure out," Said Gunter, who says their biggest issue is getting the town's financial records in order. They're starting with the water bills -- she says water billing has been irregular for years.


"The water system -- the billing has not been done on a regular basis for quite some time. Now, there was a time when bills were sent out every month but for whatever reason, that stopped happening and they were sent out quarterly or every six months or whatever and so therefore, we were losing income," Said Gunter.

As of September, there were outstanding water bills totaling nearly $60,000. And now, they're sending out the bills.

Resident Dennis Helmer says it's been months since he's had one sent to him. He hopes the change in leadership results in a turn-around for the town.

"There are all kinds of problems here in River Falls about the sewage, the water, everything. They've got all kinds of problems and all I want them to do is send me a bill!" Said Helmer, who has lived in River Falls for 10 years.

Some of the other issues the town is working on to compensate for the money lost is establishing a garbage service; and starting January, businesses will be required to have business license.

Gunter also says the town will meet with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to help fix water issues next week.

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