While Riverside officials have been focused on closing a projected $10.5 million deficit in 2016-17, they haven't neglected longer-term planning.
They've drawn up a five-year list of capital improvements - new parks, major building repairs and the like - that includes $348 million in projects the city can pay for and $1.1 billion in projects without funding.
In terms of cost, the greatest share of the projects comes from Riverside Public Utilities. Many utilities needs have big price tags - replacing water and sewer lines, for example. Also, the utility has a large cash reserve and could borrow money if needed and repay it through customer rates.
On the unfunded project list, parks and recreation has the most individual items, including repairs and improvements at existing parks and the purchase of land for new ones.
City officials used department heads' lists of needs and future wishes to create the capital improvement plan. It covers the next five fiscal years and will be reviewed every one or two years.
Riverside City Manager John Russo said department heads told him everything they thought the city needs and ranked each item as high, medium or low priority. High priority projects would be considered first as money becomes available.
The list of projects the city has no money for is long, but that doesn't mean they're all pipe dreams. Grants may be available for some work, and officials may propose a tax measure this fall that would increase revenues.
A city-commissioned poll is underway to learn what new facilities residents most want and whether they'd vote for a tax to help pay for the projects.
Officials will wait to see the poll results, but a sales tax is most likely if the city pursues a tax, Russo said.
A half-cent sales tax, which would require voter approval, would yield about $25 million a year, Russo said. The money could help pay for more frequent tree trimming and road repair, two areas that were recently cut to address a deficit. A larger sales tax would provide more money for "wish list" projects.
Parks amp; Recreation: Build Golden Star Park on Bradley Street in Ward 5, and Mt. Vernon Park on West Blaine Street in Ward 2, $14.5 million. The city owns the land for these and three other parks that remain undeveloped.
Upgrade Fairmount Park, including amphitheater renovation, lawn bowling area improvements, locomotive repainting, and dredging Lake Evans, $13 million. At 275 acres, Fairmount Park is among the citys largest and oldest recreation spots.
Build two action parks for skateboards and BMX bikes at undetermined locations, $6 million. Council members say the skateboard parks at Bobby Bonds and Hunt parks dont meet current demand.
Funded: Create youth innovation center at Arlington Park, $3.8 million. The center will offer technology-focused classes, educational programs and job skills training for teens.
Entertainment: Riverside Municipal Auditorium fixes, including new electronic sign, carpet replacement and wood floor repair, $400,000. The historic auditorium, dedicated in 1929, recently hosted a rally for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.