11:38 PM PDT on Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Press-Enterprise

Riverside’s city budget for 2010-11 is balanced, won’t require layoffs and will continue the Riverside Renaissance public works program.

It also shrinks most departments’ resources, relies on $3.6 million in one-time revenues that aren’t guaranteed, and borrows nearly $4 million from unspecified city funds to cover bond debt for parks and the city’s takeover of the wireless network.

The Riverside City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a total budget of $883.4 million, which includes general fund spending of $194.7 million. That’s a decrease of less than 2 percent from this year’s budgeted spending.

Most departments will get less money in 2010-11, though officials don’t expect layoffs, and most decreases are less than $1 million. The parks department budget will grow to handle the many new community centers and park facilities that have been added this year, City Manager Brad Hudson said.

The Riverside Metropolitan Museum’s budget will remain flat, at $1 million, after Councilman Mike Gardner questioned a proposed reduction. Last July, two jobs were cut from the staff of fewer than a dozen people.

“I feel like that was a promise the council made — when we slashed it so heavily last year, we wouldn’t do it again this year,” he said.

The budgets for police and fire will shrink slightly, but Hudson noted fire station staffing levels won’t change, and the city hopes to fill as many as 15 sworn police positions to beef up a department depleted by attrition.

The budget also allows for a 2 percent cost-of-living raise for most employees.

Renaissance projects slated for this year, which make up a good chunk of the nongeneral-fund spending, will include the Arlington Heights sports park, relocation of the Marcy Library and more than $119 million in water, sewer and electric projects.

Hudson told the council that, with its fiscally conservative budget that maintains the city’s $40 million in reserves, Riverside is better off than most other large cities. He compared it to a list that included Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Francisco and San Diego, all of which face multimillion-dollar deficits.

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