Riverside’s village board earlier this month gave the green light for staff to finalize the village’s 2017 budget after adjusting last month’s financial forecast and delivering a balanced preliminary budget for the upcoming year.
Staff’s prior forecast suggested the village’s operating fund would end 2017 with a deficit of about $230,000. But after trustees and the village president asked staff to sharpen their pencils and find a way to close that budget gap, they returned with a preliminary budget that shows a $25,000 operating surplus in 2017.
“We sat with every department head and did a line-item by line-item review of projected expenditures and needs,” said Village Manager Jessica Frances. “We looked at every single thing.”
Among the budget reductions made in the preliminary budget, said Frances, were cuts to professional development, equipment replacement and supplies. The budget, for example, eliminated out-of-state travel expenses for Frances and Police Chief Thomas Weitzel to annual conferences.
Frances and Finance Director Marco Salinas also revised cost assumptions for fuel and vehicle maintenance, based on a newer village fleet which includes more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Some costs in the budget were reallocated, taking them out of the operating budget, which pays for day-to-day expenses, and shifting them to other funds.
For example, about $30,000 was removed from the operating fund budget by shifting the cost of police and fire dispatch center maintenance to the E911 fund. Likewise, the village will now allocate a portion of its IT infrastructure costs to the water and sewer fund, since the water department also uses those services.
Riverside’s non-union employees will also pay a higher percentage of dental and health insurance premiums in 2017, allowing the village to forecast lower expenditures for its share of those premiums by between $5,000 and $10,000, Frances said. Those changes still need to be finalized.
Finally, sales tax, state per capita taxes and investment revenues were all adjusted higher. In all, about one-third of the deficit reduction is due to increased revenue predictions. Two-thirds of the deficit reduction is coming from cost cutting, Frances said.
$6.25M in capital projects
Riverside’s 2017 preliminary budget includes about $6.25 million in capital improvements. Among them is $3 million for what looks to be the first phase of a multi-year storm sewer improvement project in the First Division. That work would be funded out of the water and sewer fund.
A total of $500,000 is set aside for street improvements and $366,599 has been earmarked to resurface the main commuter parking lot. That expense would be paid from the parking lot fund, whose revenues come from parking permit and meter fees.
The budget includes nearly $1 million for repairs to the downtown train station roof, which is being largely grant funded, and $25,000 for interior improvements at the station. There’s also $140,000 in the budget to build a secure double lobby for the police department as part of the creation of a consolidated police/fire dispatch center and to remodel the communications and records rooms.
The capital projects budget for 2017 also includes a downtown façade improvement program ($30,000); the completion of a village marketing plan ($45,000); $142,000 for Forest Avenue bridge lighting, along with downtown wayfinding and Harlem and First avenue gateway signage; and $132,000 for design engineering for the East Quincy Street streetscape plan, a project for which the village has sought grant funding.
The capital budget also includes a $27,000 line item to begin the Swan Pond Park flood damage restoration, which likely will be phased in over a period of years, and $100,000 for sidewalk replacement.
Frances said the final budget presented at a public hearing in November will be very close to the preliminary document given the OK by trustees last week. The village board is expected to pass the final 2017 budget in December.