10:00 PM PDT on Monday, June 13, 2011

By ALICIA ROBINSON
The Press-Enterprise

Riverside’s 2011-12 budget is balanced now, but pending decisions at the state level could force city officials to recalculate before they vote on the fiscal plan later this month.

A public hearing is scheduled today on Riverside’s proposed $992.9 million budget, which includes general fund spending of $211.2 million.

The city has cut development department staff to factor in a redevelopment reform proposal. But if state legislators eliminate redevelopment agencies entirely, that could require another $11 million cut, City Manager Brad Hudson said.

Another area at risk is public safety, where about $1 million comes from community policing grants and jail booking fees, which are among the fees and taxes that could expire if legislators don’t extend them.

Aside from those concerns, Riverside’s proposed budget is largely status quo with a few additions.

For instance, the $14.8 million parks budget includes about $1 million in new maintenance costs for recently opened facilities such as the Arlington Heights sports park.

spending increase

Total general fund spending is proposed at about 6 percent more than the current fiscal year.

Hudson said what appears to be increased spending in some departments may be the result of accounting changes or reductions elsewhere.

For example, the development department reduced staff expenses by more than 30 percent, but its overall budget would increase from $4.8 million to $6.4 million because some of the department’s work will no longer be charged to the redevelopment agency.

On the revenue side, officials expect modest improvements, such as an increase of nearly 17 percent in sales and use taxes and overall revenue expected to be up by nearly 8.5 percent.

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