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City Moves To Combine Pair Of Departments
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Seeking to cut costs and boost efficiency, the City of Riverbank has combined the Public Works Department and the Community Development Department under the new title of Developmental Services and one director, J.D. Hightower, who previously ran only the Community Development Department that includes planning, building and code enforcement divisions.

Developmental Services administrative staff is now housed in City Hall South at Santa Fe and Third streets with a new telephone number of 863-7127.

The Riverbank City Council is not due to meet until Monday, Jan. 10 but council members know about the change that went into operation early last week, said City Manager Rich Holmer.

Public Works field workers with their trucks and other equipment will continue to be based in rented quarters on Talbot Avenue until the new corporation yard building at the west end of High Street is ready, complete with vehicle maintenance shops and a break room for employees.

But DPW administrative staff members such as Laura Graybill, Kathleen Kleek, Kim Mossman and Cheryl Stefani have moved to City Hall South.

There is enough room in the building and staff has been rearranged so members of the public have easy access to the government representatives they need to see, officials noted.

Bill Kull of Oakdale will serve as consulting City Engineer as he has done on many previous occasions.

Holmer said Riverbank needs to cut spending by about $700,000 to pay for increases in the cost of employee benefits including climbing pension and workers' compensation costs for sheriff's deputies for whose services the city contracts with Stanislaus County.

In these tough economic times, there may be more department consolidations, layoffs and other cost saving measures such as early retirements and pay cuts due in the near future, Holmer added.

The elimination of the Public Works Director position will save about $168,000 for the 2011-12 budget year.

While the Public Works field employees will come under Hightower's supervision, the former department's office workers will report to the city's administrative services director Linda Abid-Cummings.