Riverside Village Manager Peter Scalera is recommending that the village board spend almost $700,000 in general operating reserves in 2011. The alternatives, he said, are to make cuts in police and public works staffing, continue a pay freeze for non-union employees for a third consecutive year and mandate six furlough days.

In addition spending reserves is needed to avoid cuts in tree trimming, funds for replacing village vehicles and miscellaneous reductions in recreation.

Spending reserves is the only way to balance the 2011 budget, Scalera said, in his summary of the village’s budget issued Friday.

“To achieve a balanced budget, basic services must be reduced or eliminated,” Scalera wrote. “Since the village is a service provider, personnel costs are the majority expense in the general fund.”

If trustees insist on a balanced budget, Scalera recommends eliminating two police officers and one public works employee from the rolls. The moves would save $217,471, according to figures provided in the budget document, which can be found online at the village’s website, www.riverside.il.us, at the Riverside Public Library or at the village offices.

The largest line item cut next year would be for funding replacement vehicles for the village, a figure amounting to $253,873. Trustees made a similar decision to cut vehicle replacement funds in 2009.

Driving the cuts are increases in expenditures related primarily to contracted salary increases for the village’s union employees.

Union contracts have mandated that police officers and sergeants will receive base pay increases of 4 percent in 2011, while police dispatchers will receive 3.25 percent raises. The village’s fire department is not a union bargaining unit. It is staffed by non-union officers and paid-on-call firefighters.

The village’s contract with its public works employees expires at the end of 2010. The 2011 budget presented last week presumes a wage freeze next year for its public works employees.

If the village board agrees to adopt Scalera’s recommendations and utilize reserve funds to cover the deficit, the village board will be confronted with a similar dilemma in 2012.

Assuming the same staffing levels at the end of 2011, Riverside’s finance director, Kevin Wachtel, said that the board will face an operating fund deficit of roughly $1.2 million.

This article has been updated to reflect that the $253,873 would fund replacement vehicles for all village departments, not just the police department.