If all goes as planned, the Town of Riverside won’t have to dip into its savings to cover operating costs during the coming fiscal year.

At least that’s what town officials hope with the approval of the $492,000 budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year, even though the plan shows an eight-percent decrease from the town’s current budget.

“I am confident and the council is confident that the new budget will put us in a position where we won’t have to draw from savings to make ends meet,” Mayor Rusty Jennings said.  “The sad part about this is that all of our city employees are going to have to work harder—many of them are doing two jobs now—so the danger you face is that city services and the productivity of city employees can suffer.  But we don’t know what else to do.”

Riverside has slightly more than $82,500 in savings accounts designated for capital improvements, court, police, and water services, the mayor added, “but it was a lot heftier than that two years ago.  Since then, we’ve regularly had to pull from those accounts to meet payroll and other obligations.  We’ve drained it until it’s just about gone.”

Set to go into effect Oct. 1, the town’s new general fund budget is $43,000 less than the current budget.  Riverside expects $514,000 in projected income in the coming year, a decrease of $46,000.  

Jessup said that revenue projections have typically exceeded expenses, allowing the city to build a savings buffer, but “with the big decrease in revenue we’ve had the last two years,” it can’t be certain the trend will continue.

“Everything is going up—our health insurance costs, gasoline, asphalt—and our sales taxes are down.  We are in a unique situation here. We have a big development in Pell City and a big development in Lincoln, and being between them, it’s pulling revenue away from Riverside.”

The town’s finances may be discussed at the next council meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, but Jessup said he and the council are satisfied with the new budget.

“Our hope is that the economy will turn around, business interests will look to invest in Riverside.  So we’ll be patient, live within our means, weather this storm, and wait for brighter days.”


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