Riverside budget includes funds to lure police officers

The Riverside Board of Aldermen passed a resolution to approve its budget of just more than $40 million for the fiscal year which started on July 1.

There was a pair of budget workshop meetings held the month prior to go over things that were in the proposed budget.

Recently retired city administrator Greg Mills led the workshop meetings.

He noted the goal to end the previous year with enough money in the general revenue fund to pay for expenditure for a year if all of the revenue dries up and that was met with nearly $30 million still in the general fund between and total revenue last year.

Mills noted the city is forecasted to spend 95 percent of its budget, a bit higher than the 90 percent the year prior. The main reason behind that is a nine-percent increase in health insurance.

“We reached a tipping point,” he said. “The cuts we have made will not allow us to only expend 90 (percent). I expect next year to be 96 to 97 percent of the budget expenditure.”

The police department have three official openings on the squad, according to chief Chris Skinrood.

He noted there were two officers just finished the police academy and it would still be eight months after graduation before they are done with training.

He brought to the council the idea of a $3,000 bonus for new hires, payable in $1,000 increment over three years if they don’t leave the department and if they don’t have to go through the academy. An employee referral program will also be added, paying $500 per year for two years if an officer is hired.

The North Kansas City Police Department has done a similar program and hasn’t lost anyone to another department. The idea is money can attract potential candidates, while also bringing in officers with experience in the field.

The problem Riverside and many others are fighting are battling for the same candidate pool for openings.

The Riverside bonus would be paid on the officer’s annual anniversary date.

“I don’t know if it will work, but it is a test to see how it will work,” Skinrood said. “I got significant savings. We are five officers short and I saw the results in North Kansas City and it seems promising.”

Other items in the police budget are replacing three vehicles and purchasing chairs that have been in use for the past 15 years. Three Chevrolet Tahoes — one 2011 and two 2015 models — will be replaced by a 2019 Tahoe and two Ford Interceptors with a total cost of $144,000.

Other things of note in the budget.

There is a two-percent cost of living raise for city employee, which comes in at $133,938. Adding in other salary adjustments, insurance and worker’s comp, there is total change of $248,616.

Mills noted the time had come to hire a part-time help in the municipal court due to the large amount of cases. Riverside averages between 540 and 600 cases a month, second in the area behind Gladstone.

The position will be budgeted for 7 ½ hours and will increase coverage to 26 ½ hours per week.

The fire department will also replace two vehicles — a 2006 Dodge Durango with 165,000 miles and a 2010 Ford Expedition with 245,000 miles — with two 2019 Dodge Rams that will cost $100,000.

A new 2018 New Holland tractor, with a cab, will be purchased given the responsibility of the public works has seen an uptick and mowing near Horizons has uncovered various hazards. There is an additional 104 acres in Horizons to mow now, bringing the public works responsibility to 424 acres. The cost is $68,000.

Public Works streetlight budget increased by $20,000 with addition to streetlights added to Argosy Casino Parkway, Riverway and The Palisades.

The Healthy Citizen Initiative will see a boost of $96,000 due to an increase in residents in additional community center memberships.

KC Bobcat is stopping its municipal leasing program and the city will purchase the 2017 S650 Bobcat for $45,000, saving $8,000 annually with the elimination of the lease program.

A salt spreader and dumb body flatbed truck attachment will purchased to replace the previous ones that were both 2002 models.

The city will spend $500,000 less in fill dirt for Horizons compared to the 2017-2018 fiscal year.