Proposal seeks City Hall closure 1 day a month in Riverbank

RIVERBANK -- City Manager Rich Holmer is proposing that City Hall be closed every third Friday of the month so the city can balance its books for the budget year that starts July 1.

Holmer talked about his proposal Monday night at a City Council budget workshop. No decisions were made. The council is not expected to adopt a budget until its June 28 meeting.

The city needs to cut about $190,000 to balance its $6.9 million general fund budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year. The general fund pays for basic services such as law enforcement.

Holmer is proposing that all city employees take 12 furlough days to make up for the $190,000 shortfall.

He said closing the city every third Friday would be an effective way to implement the furloughs.

The city's executive team has agreed to the furloughs, but talks continue with the bargaining groups that represent the city's middle managers and rank-and-file workers.

The plan, which would prevent layoffs, also calls for the middle managers to forgo 4 percent cost-of-living increases.

Councilwoman Sandy Benitez -- while praising the hard work of city workers -- said Riverbank needs to take a hard look at the benefits it pays on behalf of city workers, saying they are not affordable over the long term.

The city pays 100 percent of employees' health insurance and pension costs.

And Mayor Virginia Madueño asked whether the city's executive team could take bigger cuts.