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City Look - Moving Forward In 2013
In a recent sit down interview with Riverbank City Manager Jill Anderson, The News sought to gain some insight as to what the Riverbank community can expect in 2013. Following is the question and answer session, designed for readers to get an idea of where the City of Riverbank is headed.

Q: What were you doing before becoming the City Manager of Riverbank?

A: I was an assistant city manager for the city of Seaside. I took some time off and then decided it was time to get back into the work force. There was an opening for a city manager position in Riverbank. I was ready to take the next step and was looking for the right fit. This city proved to be the right fit and I am very happy to be here. I really enjoyed the transition. It is a great area.

Q: What is it about your job that surprised you the most after assuming the role of city manager?

A: In some ways it's how much I really enjoy being the city manager and how much I enjoyed being in Riverbank. It has been a really good fit for me. I really enjoy the role. I am looking forward to this New Year. It is my responsibility to make the decisions and to be accountable to the council.

Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?

A: Getting it all done and making the right decisions on what the priorities are. This is a marathon, not a sprint. I try to get enough exercise and enough sleep. It's called work, life, balance, in the field.

Q: What has been the biggest issue that staff has presented you with so far?

A: There were a lot of things waiting for my arrival. I guess getting those things under control and resolved as needed. The economic collapse really hit this city hard. There were a lot of fiscal, political, and administrative difficulties and I think that was hard on the staff. Yes, it has been a rough time and I would like to acknowledge the sacrifices they have made as well as the community. I am focused on moving forward.

Q: What is the most useful piece of advice you have received since being in your present role?

A: It's funny that you should ask that because I know I have received a lot of advice. I think probably the best piece is listen and don't be afraid to lead.

Q: What were the main accomplishments for the city in 2012 - budget wise, project wise, or otherwise?

A: I think a major (budget) accomplishment for 2012-2013 is that it is structurally balanced. We are not spending more than we are taking in. However, we are not holding the 10 percent in our reserve. Our goal is to meet that 10 percent reserve in 2013-2014, we weren't able to meet that in time for 2012-2013. On projects: Jackson Avenue sidewalk project was approved and is nearing completion and they have made drainage improvements there as well. There were also some improvements along Orange Avenue and the First Street bridge and Central Avenue. It was finished months ago. They installed some new well improvements that were completed at Pioneer Park and Jackson Avenue. And new valves were also installed at Roselle and Turpin. Smart covers were put on the sewers. They welcomed some new businesses to Riverbank like, eContact Live and Compass Foods to name a few. Jacob Myers Park is thriving and we are really proud of that. The Friends of Jacobs Myers Park deserve a lot of credit for that. It is a great partnership. We are resolving some issues that have been lingering. One is that we were able to develop an agreement for the payment of taxes due to the Fire District. And then we were also able to re-negotiate our economic development bank loan with the county. I am pleased about working cooperatively with other agencies. I look forward to continuing that in 2013.

Q: Major concerns as the city enters 2013?

A: Is that we are hopeful that things are improving but they are improving slowly. We are hoping to see a little uptick in our revenues. And I guess a major concern is that we had to put off a lot of preventative maintenance activities during the budget crisis. The budgets have been so constrained after the past few years. We would like to be able to do those preventative maintenance projects before they become urgent. For example, the roof on city hall is way past its life and the roof on the historical society building as well and we are hoping they will hold up. We will need to make that major investment. Always my biggest concern is that we don't have any natural disasters or any serious emergencies that would cause harm to any individual or property. Emergency preparedness is important.

Q: Will the city be doing a financial check-up at the midway point of the fiscal year?

A: We are doing a mid-year budget presentation at the first meeting in February that will provide a little mid-year check-up and give us an insight to where we are going. The other thing that I am really excited about in 2013 is the city council announced that we will be preparing a strategic plan. To be able to make sure that we are agreed upon our major goals is setting the stage for the next upturn. There have been a lot of admin changes, staff changes, and people retiring so we are trying to do a little cleanup. We don't have any money to do any major projects. Although, we are looking into doing an energy savings or generation project. We will be exploring that opportunity.