10:00 PM PDT on Monday, April 26, 2010

By ALICIA ROBINSON
The Press-Enterprise

In the upcoming fiscal year, Riverside officials expect to trim spending in 14 of 17 city departments and shrink the general fund by about $3 million compared with what was budgeted this year — and they plan to do it without layoffs or cutting city services.

The savings will come from attrition, delaying purchases, transferring salaries out of the general fund into special funds and other fiscal maneuvers, City Manager Brad Hudson said Monday.

While the proposed budget is “as bare-bones as you can get,” Mayor Ron Loveridge said the cuts are not draconian.

“We’re not talking about closing libraries … we’re not talking about closing fire stations. We’re sustaining the basic activities of the city, in some cases doing less, but it’s a very difficult economic time for Riverside and for other cities,” he said.

Hudson said the only service where the public might notice a difference is tree trimming, which used to be done on a schedule but is now largely on an emergency basis.

Today, Hudson will present the City Council with a proposed 2010-11 budget that includes $194.7 million in general fund spending, about 1.5 percent less than this year’s budgeted spending. The fiscal year begins July 1.

“We’re not budgeting any layoffs,” he said, and the city will give previously deferred cost-of-living increases of 2 percent to all employees except police.

The proposed budget would reduce spending in almost every department, ranging from less than half a percent to more than 10 percent. The exceptions are parks and recreation, information technology and the street light assessment district. Hudson said most departments have begun spending less this year by not replacing employees who leave or old equipment.

The number of sworn police and fire employees budgeted next year will not change, though Hudson said as many as 15 now-vacant police positions will be filled.

The biggest cuts, percentage-wise, are in the budgets for human resources, which would lose more than 10 percent of its funding, and community development, which would be reduced by nearly 8 percent.

In community development, which would lose 11 positions, Hudson said, “It’s a combination of transfers to departments that actually had funding to pay them and also general attrition.”

Hudson said that with fewer city employees overall — about 2,340 budgeted positions next year, down almost 40 from this year — human resources can make do with fewer people.

Public works would lose about 45 budgeted positions, but that includes some jobs that are already vacant.

Hudson pointed out that not all positions allowed for in the city’s budget are necessarily filled.

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