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The goal: Find out how public works can do more with less

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POSTED March 22, 2010 2:22 a.m.
Manteca is spending $48,700 to find out if there are better ways to do more with less when it comes to everything the streets and water service to garbage collection, vehicle maintenance, and sewer service.

The City Council has obtained the services of Kirchhoff & Associates to conduct an efficiency analysis of the public works department.

City Manager Steve Pinkerton told the council there are two objectives for the study - both of which will ultimately save money. The first is to identify ways public works might operate more efficiently with lower overhead costs. The city has made some cost saving moves based on the elimination of positions that prompted combining duties between two disconnected operations. At one point last year when a council member asked Public Works Director Mark Houghton whether such moves will work, he simply replied “we’ll make it work.”

That reflects the stance the city has taken with the need to cutback expenditures to match declining revenues. Pinkerton indicated the “outside look” is designed to look at how things are now being done to find even more ways to reduce costs while improving efficiency.

“The intended outcome is to improve the service delivery of the Department of Public Works that will result in a better quality of life for city residents at a lower unit cost,” Pinkerton noted in a memo to the council.

The consultant will also try to determine if there are ways of improving the development review process where the public works department is involved in a bid to reduce costs to both the city and applicants whether they are homeowners, business people or developers.

The report is needed prior to putting together the final budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

After cutting more than $11 million to balance this year’s budget, Manteca needs to trim about another $3.8 million to balance the 2010-11 fiscal year budget based on current revenue trends.

The study also is needed before the city can establish cost recovery fees to charge developers and other such as homeowners who have permits processed for construction work. The city is trying to minimize staff time before devising a cost recovery fee matrix for the city council to consider.

While the council had indicated it may not implement full cost recovery at once, the revenue such fees are expected to generate may make a major dent in the projected deficit.

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