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Financial Leaders See Budget Surplus
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Riverbank Finance Director Marisela Hernandez produced a draft 2012-2013 budget at the Riverbank City Council's June 4 workshop that reflects a surplus, rather than a deficit, because the anticipated revenues will exceed projected expenditures and require no transfer of reserve funds.

The proposed general fund is expected to include revenues of $7.89 million against anticipated expenses of $7.79 million.

Planning to return with a final proposed budget on June 25, Hernandez said she is still working on reducing an anticipated "shortfall" of $76,280 but that is the amount needed to meet the 10 percent reserve required by council.

Revenue projections reflect an increase of 4.75 percent. That includes an 8.57 percent rise in sales tax revenues from increased spending as well as a gasoline price increase; a $42,000 increase in Prop. 84 Grant Administration funds to reimburse the city for staff time spent in planning and finance; and a $228,835 increase in management fee revenues offsetting salaries funded through water and sewer funds and special building project funds.

General fund expenditures are expected to increase primarily due to personnel.

This includes $62,250 in the city manager's department to help pay full-time salary and benefits for Jill Anderson in the job which was a part-time position held by Pam Carder from July 2011 to March of 2012.

Building division expenditures will rise by $228,860 to pay for the building inspector and construction inspector who formerly were funded out of building permit fees that are now depleted.

Police services will need increased funds of $209,000 to pay for the fourth year of two sheriff's deputy posts that were funded for the last three years through the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act's stimulus funds.

Public Works Administration will need another $76,000 to help pay for the Development Services Deputy Director of Operations position (now held by Mike Riddell) that was left vacant during the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

The anticipated deficit originally stood at $585,000 but was whittled down to $76,000 by several cost cutting measures, Hernandez noted.

Former administrative services clerk Jennifer Bustamante has been promoted to a post with the Local Redevelopment Authority at the former Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant (now known as the Riverbank Industrial Complex) and her salary and benefits are now paid out of LRA funds. Her position at City Hall will remain vacant and her duties be reallocated to other staff members for a savings of $79,000.

The current vacancy in the Administrative Services Director position is now being filled by a part-time interim director. The city manager has proposed the post remain vacant, the current Deputy City Clerk Annabelle Aguilar has been reclassified to acting city clerk and a part-time personnel manager will be hired. Savings will amount to $64,000.

Part-time employees are filling the vacant full-time recreational department clerk position for a six-month period for savings of $27,000.

Beginning reserve estimates for July 1 have increased by $106,000 due to a decrease of $116,000 in the police services budget and an increase of $10,000 in legal department costs due to the quo warranto action against Jesse James White.

Decreases in contract services have dropped the Grover Landscaping contract by $23,000 with low security jail inmates performing landscape maintenance in the smaller parks.

A decrease in funding for a proposed Public Information Officer position has saved $25,000. A drop in economic development assistance funds has saved $45,000 and doing without bark replacement in city park playgrounds for one year will save $12,000.

Hernandez warned the budget does not reflect other possibilities that could impact the anticipated reserve.

These include: changes in the state budget; an impact from health insurance, which is currently being switched to a different provider; payments of outstanding loans or disputed fees; and unusually high legal expenses.

For example, the city owes the county $500,000 for a county Economic Development Bank loan and is due to make a $100,000 payment this summer. Council members also noted the city incurred $150,000 in legal costs during the current budget year and hope these extraordinary expenses do not happen again.