By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Council Postpones Budget Adoption
Placeholder Image
Mustering only three members, Riverbank City Council members postponed adoption of a final budget for 2009-2010 on Sept. 28 to the next meeting.

Vice Mayor Dave White said he had received the budget papers only shortly before the meeting and wanted to study them further. He also wanted Councilmember Sandra Benitez to be present for a vote on the budget. Benitez was ill and not present, leaving the council in the absence of a mayor with only three members on the dais.

The city anticipates revenues of $6,622,000 coming into the general fund and expenditures requested by departments to total $7,110,000 and thus will need to draw approximately $487,000 from beginning reserves, City Manager Rich Holmer and Financial Director Marisela Hernandez told the council.

The general fund reserve by June 30 of 2010 is planned to be 10 percent or $650,000 as required by council.

Changes from the preliminary budget that council adopted on June 22 include additional expenses of $10,000 for a mayoral election, $6,100 for street sweeping, $50,000 for wastewater treatment plant utilities, $5,000 for water stand-by costs, $25,000 for water well utility costs, $3,000 for air pollution control district permits, $10,000 for compressed natural gas maintenance and $10,000 for vehicle fuel expenses.

The only reduction was of $2,400 in city council personnel expenses.

Personnel costs also have changed to reflect new allocations, additional voluntary furlough days and to account for merit increases awarded throughout the year.

The anticipated general fund revenues of $6,622,000 represents a decrease of 9.01 percent from the 2008-2009 budget.

For the next fiscal year, staff anticipates a 5.48 decrease in sales tax revenue.

"The city has not remained immune to changes in the economy and we have experienced significant declines in several of our major revenue sources including property tax, building permit fees and motor vehicle in lieu fees," Holmer commented.

State authorities have enacted a provision of Proposition 1A, which will allow them to "borrow" 8 percent of the city's property tax to balance the state budget. This represents for the city a current loss of $295,000 with the loan due to be repaid in June of 2013.

To maintain its 10 percent reserve, the city has chosen to enroll in a program designed by the California Statewide Communities Development Authority that will provide agencies with their property taxes up front rather than having to wait three years for repayment.

To balance the budget, the city has changed service levels. It has "frozen" a position in the parks department as well as a code enforcement post. Three permanent part-time employees and four fulltime employees have been laid off.

The mid management bargaining unit as well as all executive management staff have agreed to concessions in their contracts such as no cost of living adjustments for the next fiscal year and taking one furlough day. The city has renegotiated professional service contracts with the city attorney and city engineer.

Staff has reduced the contract with Grover Landscaping for the mowing of parks and the city parks department has taken back the mowing of five parks including Jacob Myers Park.

All departments have accepted the elimination of funding for Channel 2 special programming, the limitation of conferences and travel to only those courses required for certification, and the elimination of funds for the Sister City program.

The gas tax fund (which finances road repair) and the sewer fund are of major concern to staff, Holmer said. For the next fiscal year, staff anticipates the gas tax fund will require a subsidy of $122,000 from the general fund to balance the budget.

The sewer fund is expected to have a reserve of $181,000 by June of 2010 but though the reserve is at an all-time high, the funds are not sufficient to cover required expenses. Lack of funding has delayed several projects including repair of a pipeline at the treatment plant and preparation of a sanitary sewer management plan required by the state.