Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/28/2010 09:46:13 PM PST

RIALTO – Residents can expect to see a handful of grand openings as the city celebrates 100 years of incorporation next Nov. 17.

In the meantime, city officials will continue to juggle the budget.

Sweetened employee pensions on top of a tough economy have officials pinching pennies and looking for cash wherever they can find it.

One of the ways is through a proposed deal to outsource the city’s water and wastewater departments to a private company.

The city is working on an agreement with American Water Operations and Maintenance Inc., to take over management and maintenance of the city’s antiquated water system.

Officials say they expect rates to go up under the agreement and that a vote of the city’s property owners in the new year will decide if the move happens.

About $45 million of improvements are needed to bring the water system up to date, according to city officials.

American Water would pay off the debt owed by the water utilities and fund infrastructure improvements.

Water and wastewater employees will be given the option to transfer to another department, but most will transition to work for American Water, officials have said.

At the same time, the city expects to lose dozens of employees through retirement.

“Citywide, starting this month through the end of next year, probably around 40,” Councilman Ed Palmer said. The city could take a substantial up-front hit through cashout balances but looks to save money in the long term because of the reduced work force.

Finance officials have warned that the city’s $31 million economic reserve could be wiped out in a couple of years.

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