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Happy 3rd of July?

Parade now taking place day earlier as well

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POSTED June 9, 2009 2:07 a.m.
Councilwoman Debby Moorhead has heard the grumblings.
Not a lot of people are happy about a decision to switch Manteca’s official Fourth of July celebration to July 3 in a bid to avoid the City of Manteca paying public safety workers plus other municipal support staff such as street crews overtime and holiday pay as they struggle with an $11.3 million budget deficit for the fiscal year that starts in 21 days.
That’s why in her other role as Manteca Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer she wants people to know the 2,400 flags that are part of Flags over America will line Manteca’s streets on July 4 and not on July 3.
That means when the traditional Fourth of July parade gets rolling it won’t be passing down a flag lined Main Street because it is taking place on Friday, July 3, as is the annual Manteca Kiwanis Fourth of July breakfast.
The city early on made the decision to shift the aerial fireworks display plus the Independence Day celebration from Saturday, July 4, to Friday, July 3. Both take place at the Big League Dreams sports complex.
Some have suggested police and firefighters volunteer their time to work Independence Day to allow the city to hold the celebration on the actual holiday without incurring expenses that could easily exceed $10,000 at a time the city is looking into the possibility of further cuts in public safety operations.
Public safety personnel – like other city employees have already agreed to take a 3.8 percent pay cut starting July 1. Detractors claim that isn’t the case as they got pay raises Jan. 1. The deficit – and all city measures involving the pay of existing workers – is directed at the 2009-10 fiscal year that starts July 1. The city’s current fiscal year that ends June 30 is not in a deficit mode although steps have been taken to save as much money as possible by slashing expenses starting as far back as October in order to have additional revenue on hand for the 2009-10 fiscal year
City workers will actually see a bit more in their pay checks this July when compared to July of last year. That is because all employees on July 1 got a 4 percent pay increase based on previously negotiated cost of living steps except sworn police officers who got a 6 percent jump in pay. The net impact on pay checks for everyone but police officers is a two-tenths increase when comparing this July to July 2008. Police officer checks for base pay will be up 2.2 percent over the same period. The cost of the pay increases was factored into the projected deficit for the 2009-10 fiscal year. Such a strategy makes sense for both employees and the city. It means the city won’t have to play catch-up when the economy improves to deliver previously agreed upon pay hikes plus do so retroactively. The pay raises were agreed upon to bring Manteca municipal workers close to the medium of what comparable cities in the region pay for similar jobs.
Three different employee group leaders contacted by the Bulletin said they will probably be open to holding the line on future pay raises based on the city’s financial situation on a year-to-year basis. Manteca leaders, with $2 million to $3.7 million more to cut out of spending to balance next fiscal year’s budget have made it clear options that could come up are pay cuts- if employee groups agree to them – or layoffs.

Police association
raising money for
aerial fireworks
The city is also charging for the first time this year to access the Independence Day activities at BLD on July 3.
The event will run from 4 to 10:30 p.m. This family oriented event is expected to attract 8,000 to 10,000 people from Manteca and the surrounding area.  There will be a minimal admission fee of $2 for adults, $1 for teens 13 - 17, while children 12 and under are free.  This event is one of the premier Independence Day events in the area.  There will be live entertainment featuring community talent, children's activities, softball games, home run derby as well as food and fun.  
Ironically, part of the nearly $20,000 tab the city incurs for staging the event will be raised by off-duty members of the Manteca Police Officers Association manning their fireworks booth at Union Road and Yosemite Avenue. They set aside at least 40 percent of their net proceeds to help pay for the aerial fireworks.
Still, things don’t settle right with Manteca residents like Steven Catalano who is trying to enlist others to join him in a Fourth of July celebration at Library Park and to boycott the activities on July 3.
His casual celebration would be reminiscent of the mdid-1990s when Manteca’s Fourth of July Committee dropped plans for the parade and other activities including fireworks because they couldn’t get community support.
Jay Smart – a councilman at the time who has since moved away – encouraged people to join him on Main Street on the Fourth of July in a procession. He brought out his Jeep Willy decked out with flags. Upwards of 100 people followed suit either driving or walking with flags on the sidewalks for nearly two hours.
Moorhead, by the way, said the chamber is in need of volunteers to put flags out this Sunday to mark Flag Day as well as for on the Fourth of July. To volunteer, call the chamber at 823-6121.
The chamber also has applications for the parade on July 3 that is being sponsored by the Sunrise Kiwanis.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com




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