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City Budget Tops 2010 Agenda
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City officials will keep a very close watch on the budget during 2010, said City Manager Rich Holmer in his annual predictions for the coming year.

"We will have to pay extraordinarily close attention to our budget," he said. "State authorities have not solved their problems and the trickle down effect touches us too. We will have to manage money more conservatively because we just don't know what's going on in Sacramento."

Riverbank will be receiving some stimulus funds in April that will be used for another phase of downtown revitalization, which includes completing Third Street from Topeka Avenue north to Highway 108 and finishing repairs on Roselle Avenue all the way to Claribel Road, although not to the full width desired.

Sometime this spring, the city again will move to raise the sewer rates, Holmer said, adding "I feel positive at least four council members will see the need for studies and corrections to avoid heavy fines."

The former Army ammunition plant will be conveyed to the city, hopefully in April, and the transfer will permit the expansion of three large companies onsite. These are AM2T (advanced metallurgy technologies), Dayton Superior, which makes rebar for road surfaces, and Donaldson's that manufactures parts for air conditioners.

Rizo Lopez Foods also is expecting to move to the new industrial park.

"That's to the uncontaminated part of the property. We still must make sure the Army recognizes its exact responsibilities in environmental clean up," Holmer said.

The 65-unit, low cost housing complex at Patterson and Claus roads is making good progress. The city expects it to be ready for occupancy by June or July. Among other unusual features are some units with four bedrooms that will allow larger families to move there.

Looking at public safety, Holmer noted the city has received Homeland Security funds to place surveillance cameras at key locations in the city's commercial and public areas.

"We've lagged behind other communities in using this means to improve security," he said. "Last year, for example, we lost playground equipment at Zerillo Park to vandalism. There is still a $5,000 reward out for that."

The city will complete the environmental impact report for the entire downtown including the cannery site where there is potential for installing housing and connect it to the old downtown through closing the Patterson Road railroad crossing and making an underground access road at Santa Fe Street.

The city finally will get around to tearing down the old shed at the corporation yard, Holmer added, and build a new vehicle maintenance facility plus break room and offices for the staff.

Beyond Earth Day this year is scheduled for April 10 and Samuel Jackson Spring Clean Up for May 8. The clean-up event will include the volunteer help of about 350 members of the Church of Latter Day Saints.

Working toward a healthier community, city officials will try to make the city friendlier toward pedestrians and bicyclists, more compact and self sufficient in facilities so residents do not have to go to Modesto, and oriented to keeping the air and the water clean for its residents.

Two more gateway entrances to the city are planned as well. Designers propose a bronze sculpture on Squire Wells Road in the Crossroads area that will simulate a kayaker paddling past river rocks and the use of blue glass to simulate a watercourse along the median of Oakdale Road with a sculpture of two boys fishing.

For Jacob Myers Park, the city is seeking grants to build the long promised amphitheater, wedding gazebo and additional trails.

Council elections are due in November when two of the council members, Sandra Benitez and Dave White, will see their terms expire. Should they choose not to seek reelection, Holmer expects quite a few hopefuls to toss their hats in the ring, as happened in recent election for the mayor.