In order to balance its 2012 operating budget, Riverside’s village manager is recommending another year of salary freezes, furlough days, limits on equipment purchases and a recommendation to forego a planned contribution from the general operating fund to pay for new village vehicles.
According to a draft of the budget, which is available on the village’s website (www.riverside.il.us), officials were predicting an operating deficit of $443,000 before figuring in recommended cuts in spending.
The 2012 budget assumes zero-percent pay raises for all village workers including, for the first time, union employees – public works and police – currently negotiating new contracts.
Village Manager Peter Scalera has also recommended six furlough days for all non-union and public works employees, which would save $34,200.
The biggest cost savings would come from deferring a planned $242,000 contribution to the village’s vehicle replacement fund, which pays for things like new police squad cars.
Village trustees also deferred a planned $254,000 contribution to the vehicle replacement fund in 2011.
Factoring in the cuts, officials say the $8.05 million operating budget will be balanced by the scant margin of $332.
“The slow recovery of the national economy and continued financial difficulties of the state continue to impact Riverside,” wrote Scalera in his budget letter to the village’s board of trustees. “For this reason it is important that we address the structural deficit and lack of revenue to ensure village services are not reduced or eliminated in the future.”
While the village board has weighed some decisions regarding that structural deficit, mainly regarding capital spending after 2015, the 2012 budget follows the pattern of past budgets. Staff has recommended cuts to close the projected operating deficit in order to achieve a balanced budget.
Whether the village board will agree to any or all of the recommended cuts will be hashed out at a budget workshop meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at the township hall, 27 Riverside Road.
Last year, for example, the village board agreed to withhold a contribution to the vehicle replacement fund, freeze the salaries of non-union staff and other cuts. At the same time, the board agreed to hire another police officer and declined to cut a position in the public works department. A projected $251,500 deficit was to be covered by cash reserves.
As it turns out, Riverside Finance Director Kevin Wachtel is projecting that the village will end 2011 with a $318,000 operating surplus. It’s the third operating surplus the village will record in the past four years.
Some of that savings comes as a result of positions that went unfilled in 2011. The board had budgeted $40,000 for an economic development director, but never hired anyone for the job. In public works, only four seasonal workers were hired in 2011, versus the six budgeted for. The recommendation in 2012 is to keep the seasonal work force in public works at four.
The village also spent almost $100,000 less in 2011 than it projected for paramedic services. The 2011 budget also reflects the fact that planned raises for public works employees were never implemented, because those employees have been working without a contract since Dec. 31, 2010.
Other savings have come from smaller operational spending cuts throughout the year, said Wachtel, like limiting spending on staff training, phone system expenses, for example.
“We continue to be mindful of everything we spend on an ongoing, day-to-day basis,” Wachtel said.