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City Council Members Review Main Goals
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City police goals for this year are to continue crime suppression, law enforcement and education, direct patrols specifically against drugs, gangs and graffiti, increase camera surveillance of city and business facilities and encourage the foundation of more Neighborhood Watch groups, Sgt. Vince Kimbrough told a special meeting of the Riverbank City Council on March 2.

Despite tough economic times, he added, the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department that provides the city's law enforcement, aims to keep the same number of staff here and basically the same people. Some of them have now served three to four years in Riverbank since the department contracted with the city 15 years ago.

"We currently have some problems with graffiti and cameras are expensive," he noted. "In one recent incident we stopped a car on the outskirts of town coming in from Ripon. They had 90 cans of paint on board and even a tag book (of graffiti designs). We caught them before they got started."

Kimbrough also mentioned recent theft at the Crossroads Shopping Center where thieves have stripped an estimated $70,000 worth of copper from rooftop air conditioning equipment, adding the business owners are taking drastic steps to stop further losses.

The city called the meeting to hear reports from department heads and set goals for this year. Only three of the five council members were in attendance at the strategy session. Dave White and Jesse James White were absent. Mayor Virginia Madueno said this was regrettable since the meeting was important, adding she would also like to see more public participation in setting priorities for this year.

Department heads took turns at explaining in brief how they serve the city and what they see as a their main goals for 2010.

City Clerk and Administrative Services Director Linda Abid Cummings said her top task this year would be coordination of the city elections. She would continue to prepare all council agendas and paperwork, strive to reduce legal risks to the city - through ensuring the safety, for example, of children's playgrounds - update energy cost reduction policies and hazard mitigation plans.

Finance Director Marisela Hernandez said she would lead the transfer of Riverbank Oakdale Transit Authority administration from the Oakdale Finance Department to that of Riverbank, initiate a comprehensive, annual financial report to better explain budget figures to the public and provide a balanced budget with a 10 percent general fund reserve.

Public Works Director Dave Melilli stressed the necessity of raising the sewer rates if his department is to have sufficient funds to upgrade the system and avoid fines from state authorities. His goals include updating city development standards, carrying out Oakdale Road landscaping and Roselle Avenue repaving projects, completing access for the disabled requirements, starting a compressed natural gas maintenance station at the corporation yard, beginning phase three of the downtown plan, providing wastewater treatment plant improvements such as a laboratory and locker room and restroom for staff.

Parks and Recreation Director Sue Fitzpatrick said she hoped to see the newly started teen center finished and furnished by the year's end. She also planned to expand recreation programs for all ages and abilities, increase programs that are financially self sufficient, provide scholarships for those in need, repair some city buildings - City Hall has roof leaks - make recommendations on saving energy, continue the high quality maintenance of the city's parks - there are 16 smaller ones plus the 55-acre Jacob Myers Park - and refine the performance of the city's new water fountains.

Economic & Housing Director Tim Ogden said his main goal this year is to complete transfer of the former ammunition plant from the Army to the City of Riverbank as an industrial park. He also will be working on securing grants for more jobs and housing, initiating a business improvement district by which the merchants can tax themselves to raise additional funds, cooperating with the Riverbank Chamber of Commerce and Stanislaus County Alliance on business retention and expansion. His other concerns include the future of the Del Rio Theater, high-speed rail and a marketing plan for the downtown.