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Economic Development Post Review
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With the departure of Riverbank Economic Development & Housing Director Tim Ogden to become City Administrator in Waterford, his department's requested appropriations in the city's proposed 2011-2012 budget dropped from $233,000 to zero in last week's budget discussions.

Interim City Manager Pam Carder commented she and staff had not yet decided whether to replace Ogden but she promised to have a recommendation on what to do with that department at the Monday, June 13 council meeting.

A building inspector is retiring, she added, and the city may be able to get along without refilling that position.

Before City Treasurer Marisela Hernandez presented her preliminary budget proposal in two sessions, Carder stressed the city is still in negotiations with the employee unions and still needs to address the costs involved in several legal actions including that against City Manager Rich Holmer, placed on administrative leave.

Hernandez noted the city would lose $85,000 in revenues it drew this year in citing motorists for minor driving violations under the municipal code rather than the state code due to a change in the law.

The city is also about to lose $100,000 in a special annual grant to assist local law enforcement with equipment and services. Police Chief Bill Pooley noted, however, the city will have this fund for one more year, since his department set aside the first COPS grant as a reserve and this is still available.

Pooley noted the costs of the city's contract with the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department will climb from $3,292,000 to $3,380,000 for an increase of 2.7 percent but that is far less than the initial proposal.

He's expecting to see law enforcement cost including workers compensation and retirement and even his own salary drop in the next few years.

Expenditures for the parks department were scheduled to climb from $586,000 to $647,000, a gain of 10 percent. Council member Dotty Nygard suggested they review a $250,000 contract with Grover Landscaping for mowing park lawns.

Council member Jesse James White missed the Tuesday budget meeting starting at 5 p.m. but appeared for the Thursday session to which the council had attached the annual proposal to approve taxes for the Crossroads Landscaping and Lighting District.

They had been unable to approve this at the Tuesday session for lack of members (two as area residents had recused themselves from voting) and needed White's vote on Thursday.

White at first said he opposed any raise in taxes, however "nominal" as staff called them. But he was later convinced of the importance of maintaining services in the city's largest of a dozen lighting and landscaping districts and gave his approval.