10:00 PM PDT on Tuesday, June 21, 2011

By ALICIA ROBINSON
The Press-Enterprise

Riverside has a balanced budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, but City Manager Brad Hudson cautioned the council that state legislation on redevelopment could cut a multimillion-dollar hole in it.

Council members on Tuesday unanimously approved the budget, which includes $211 million in general fund spending.

Councilman Paul Davis had threatened to vote against the budget because it initially didn’t include filling a police-community liaison job that he said is needed, and because he wanted a compromise on proposed fee increases.

His concerns were apparently satisfied on both issues. Hudson told the council the city is now recruiting for the police job, and earlier Tuesday the council tweaked the fee schedule.

The fee changes included some increased charges for use of city parks and community centers and a few new fees, such as one to use the city’s fire training facilities. But the bulk of the fees are for development services such as permit requests and plan review.

Officials said the increases would help the city recover 80 percent of its costs, up from the current 70 percent. After two years, the council will consider raising cost recovery to 90 percent.

Davis wanted to phase in the first increase to avoid hurting businesses, and the council voted to delay development fee changes until January; they would have started July 1. Most parks fees also won’t go up until January.

The overall budget won’t suffer much from the delay, Hudson said, because the fees are just a small part of projected revenues. He was somewhat more worried about state bills that would abolish redevelopment agencies but allow cities to pay the state to be allowed to create successor agencies.

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