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Lathrop leaders eat shrimp while Manteca taxpayers subsidize their animal services

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POSTED March 3, 2009 4:31 a.m.
Why should stray or unwanted dogs in Manteca have a shorter lifespan because elected-officials in Lathrop like to chow down on taxpayer financed shrimp cocktail before the start of their council meetings?
Lathrop, which has been less than transparent about any financial woes they are going through, have been staging “congratulation” receptions for employees getting honors, employees retiring, and even employees of other government agencies retiring for the past several months while every other agency in the region has been cutting back. Each time there is a free spread of food that includes shrimp cocktail.
At the same time Manteca has been cutting back, Lathrop has been getting a free ride courtesy of Manteca’s taxpayers. Lathrop contracts with the city for animal shelter services. Under the deal, Lathrop is entitled to 17.5 percent of the shelter capacity and is charged accordingly. That, however, is not reality. Lathrop is actually using 25 percent of the shelter and is getting a $15,000-plus a year free ride.
You’d think Manteca elected officials would put their foot down especially after the $1 million-plus free ride Lathrop got for years by paying a lower-than-actual cost for their 14.7 percent share of the wastewater treatment plant.
Let’s not forget how Lathrop’s elected leaders tied up Big League Dreams and the Stadium Retail Center for over a year with a legal suit over a flimsy excuse it would be major impact in terms of traffic at the Louise Avenue and Interstate 5 interchange. That cost Manteca Kohl’s store for one year plus added almost $3 million to BLD construction costs due to cement and steel prices that soared during the delay caused by the lawsuit.
No matter how you dice it, the problem is Manteca’s, not Lathrop’s.
Manteca’s elected leaders should look out for Manteca first and foremost and not provide a gift of Manteca tax dollars to another jurisdiction. This isn’t a mutual aid type of thing. The door doesn’t swing both ways on this one.
It also goes beyond the $15,000 or so that Manteca taxpayers are being shortchanged each year.
Lathrop’s dogs taking up space in the Manteca animal shelter shortens the time for Manteca dogs to be claimed before they are put to death. Subsidizing Lathrop effectively is a death sentence for Manteca dogs.
If Lathrop can afford a dog park which Manteca is struggling to come up with the money to fund, they certainly can provide their own animal shelter.
To put it in perspective, in a decade’s time Lathrop has gotten $100,000-plus in free services. That would more than cover half the cost for the proposed Woodward Park dog park.
Why should Manteca residents get shortchanged on amenities because Lathrop is not paying its fair share of the animal shelter?
The argument that Lathrop will get mad and go elsewhere for their animal shelter services so therefore it will cost Manteca money is financially flimsy at best. The reason is simple. If getting 8 percent more free capacity is $15,000 a year, that means Lathrop is paying in the neighborhood of $32,000 for the capacity it contracts. Losing Lathrop would mean losing $50,000.
That, however, could end saving Manteca money. Here’s why.
Sooner or later the state is going to put its foot down on Manteca’s animal shelter operations as being inadequate. The city has a preliminary estimate that it may cost at least $1 million to eventually build a new animal shelter at another location.
Here’s the solution – get rid of Lathrop, remodel the animal holding area and convert the small offices on Wetmore into additional kennel space and put a portable building on site for officers. That should give Manteca anywhere from 30 to 40 percent more capacity at the animal shelter. In future years if there is still a need for more kennel space, just expand into the corporation yard. The city’s corporation yard can expand by doing a partial split on land the redevelopment agency owns just to the south to provide additional space for those municipal operations.
Even if it takes several years to remodel or reconfigure the animal shelter, Manteca gets 25 percent more capacity by just getting rid of Lathrop.
And keeping the “new shelter” on site when the work is finally done can easily save in excess of $600,000 if not more when all of the adjustments to municipal services are made at the location.
The real question Manteca’s elected leaders have to ask themselves is how they can justify subsidizing Lathrop whose leaders eat shrimp cocktail while they’re struggling to keep municipal services running here in Manteca with an impending $11.3 million budget deficit?

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