The city of Riverside’s roughly $1.2 billion budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year abounds with cost-containment measures, including leaving more than 300 positions vacant to save money, officials confirmed Thursday.
The City Council ratified the spending plan Tuesday, but some details have since been clarified.
Like other jurisdictions, the city has been hammered by the economic upheaval tied to public health regulations implemented to mitigate the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Most municipal offices remain closed to the public, though there is limited access to City Hall.
To pare down costs, staff presented the council with various options, and foremost among them was a decision not to fill 332 jobs that workers have vacated or retired from in the last year or more. According to the city manager’s office, 137 of those positions were directly covered by General Fund appropriations.
The attrition policy will result in just over $15 million in savings, according to staff.
Another cost-cutting move was the council’s postponement of plans to erect a new police headquarters, which would have come with a $2.1 million price tag.
Some of the funds that would have gone toward construction will instead be spent on homeless outreach by the police department, which Chief Larry Gonzales specifically wanted.
“Chief Gonzales showed real leadership in his collaborative approach to addressing the impacts of homelessness,” Mayor Rusty Bailey said. “I applaud him for his willingness to solve homelessness through proactive and comprehensive efforts.”
The council also authorized the sale of pension obligation bonds at a more favorable interest rate — 3.68% — netting an anticipated annual savings of $7 million.
Under the spending blueprint, the planned expansion of the Riverside Metropolitan Museum, now referred to as the Museum of Riverside, will be delayed in the coming fiscal year, keeping $800,000 in reserve.
“Priority-based budgeting is an opportunity for our community to demonstrate its values in the budget document that guides city spending,” Councilwoman Erin Edwards said. “I am confident that this process will yield a budget that more accurately reflects the wishes of our constituents.”
Altogether, rollbacks in expenditures will save the city an aggregate $28 million in 2020-21, according to the city manager’s office.
The council generally fashions a budget in two-year cycles, but this appropriations plan will apply to just the next fiscal year because of the extraordinary challenges, city officials said.
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