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City of Manteca sacrifices private sector jobs

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POSTED July 9, 2009 2:16 a.m.

Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
The following comments are in response to the editor notations at the end of my comments published on Monday, July 6.

Apparently, I misread and misunderstood the article and the establishment of landscape maintenance districts in Manteca.  And, perhaps the word “defunct” was too pointed, maybe I should have framed my comments to reflect the purpose of landscape maintenance districts (LMD) and the loss of jobs.  Perhaps the clue I missed was the subtitle of the front-page article, which read, “Manteca now in charge of 50 acres of LMDs.”  Originally, the LMDs were to be maintained by private contractors and the subdivision homeowners would be assessed for costs, as such they would not be a burden on the city.  Yet we will now have the city providing the maintenance.  

On the other hand, maybe it was the content of the article, which identified that the Council was in the process of making adjustments in parks personnel responsibilities in order to save money and assist with the balancing of the budget.  

I have no qualms with city personnel, they are creative and productive with the resources they are provided; and I respect and applaud the work they do on behalf of the people of this community.  However, the Council’s action of making adjustments to save public sector jobs at the expense of private sector jobs is not a win-win approach.  I contend that the formation of LMDs should have been reviewed more thoroughly and should have been incorporated into the parks system at the onset.  The issue of someone losing his or her job could have been averted.

With respect to LMD funding, what happens when the affected homeowners repeatedly vote against an increase in their annual levy.  Once the reserves are depleted, the result will likely be a reduced level of maintenance and a slow deterioration of the quality of landscaping.

You note that there has never been an impact to the (city’s) general fund.  However, I point out that the LMDs affect the general fund at several levels.  The LMDs were originally devised as a means of maintaining public improvements without drawing from the general fund.  The funds generated by the LMDs that allow for public sector job adjustments divert general funds.  The private sector jobs that are lost will affect the municipal revenue stream, which is integrated into the general fund.  The number of parks in the community did not diminish, LMDs will be maintained by city crews, the number of city parks maintenance people will not increase, and someone will be heading for the unemployment line, I wonder which part of the general fund budgetary process has not been affected.

The issue of LMDs and the budget and personnel issues could have been avoided, or minimized considerably, if the Council gave more thought to these matters at the onset; instead of getting caught up in the crowd chasing yet another economic bubble, or trying to save a developer a buck, or at the expense of long awaited quality of life amenities.  We need a change in focus, a cultural change at the legislative level, and a revenue stream and budgetary process that is less sensitive to the cyclical patterns of the economy and development.  

Benjamin Cantu,
Resident and Businessman
Manteca, California


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