Riverside trustees will vote in early December to approve the village’s 2021 operating budget – balanced to the dollar – after the village board and staff hashed out various cuts to the preliminary budget over the course of the past two months.

Members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on the budget at a hearing scheduled on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Riverside Township Hall, 27 Riverside Road.

Trustees are slated to vote on the budget at their meeting on Dec. 3.

During a brief wrap-up of the budget process at the village board’s Oct. 15 meeting, Finance Director Karin Johns, presented an operating budget that showed identical revenues and expenditures of $9,757,252 in the general fund, which pays for day-to-day expenses such as employee salaries and benefits.

That represents an increase over final projected revenues and expenditures in 2020, both of which felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Total general fund expenditures in 2020 are predicted to end up at just under $9.5 million, with revenues projected to exceed expenditures by about $50,000.

Riverside’s budgeted expenditures for 2021 are only slightly less than those budgeted originally for 2020.

When Johns and Village Manager Jessica Frances first presented the budget in September, the general fund showed a deficit of about $316,000.

At that time, however, village trustees agreed to slash a good part of that deficit by reducing the amount the village would be contributing to its police pension fund to the statutory minimum level in 2021, a reduction from the full obligation of about $171,000.

The village will also be able to realize savings of about $25,500 in health insurance premiums for 2021 and reduced recreation department expenses and adjusted that department’s revenue projections. The village will also save a nominal amount of money through the retirement of its public works director, which became effective earlier this month.

On Oct. 1, village trustees OK’d more tweaks to the budget, to close the remaining gap. Those decisions included eliminating a paid forestry intern for 2021 and reducing two public works seasonal positions from 25 weeks to 20 weeks. Those two line items will save the village about $22,500.

The village will also see a nearly $32,000 annual savings by inking a new three-year contract with its telephone service provider Call One after seeking competitive proposals, and will save another $4,000 by eliminating Riv-Inia, an outdoor concert event typically held in early fall.

Trustees also decided to increase the 2021 general fund revenue projection by transferring its cash balance in the North Suburban Employee Benefits Cooperative to an investment fund so that it can earn interest.

Riverside has also planned for roughly $1.37 million in capital improvements in 2020, including spending $40,000 to expand the village’s police surveillance camera initiative; $475,000 to construct a new walking path in Swan Pond Park (subject to available grant funding); $50,000 in design engineering costs for the East Quincy Street streetscape improvement project; $75,000 to construct a communications tower at the Riverside Public Works facility; $32,333 to fund the village’s share of the Des Plaines River Trail Extension Project engineering costs; and $325,000 to fund the village’s portion of the cost to repair and repaint the 26th Street water system standpipe that it shares with the village of North Riverside.