View Mobile Site

It is – for better or worse – a brave new world

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED October 4, 2009 2:09 a.m.
How dare they - the argument goes – cut back on law enforcement pay or talk about layoffs – when we passed the Measure M public safety half cent sales tax to pay for police officers and firefighters?

This may surprise those who believe there is a conspiracy afloat in Manteca but the city – so far at least – is doing exactly what the voters approved when they agreed to pass Measure M.

Measure M’s language clearly stated it was in addition to the normal general fund support of public safety which would not be reduced in terms of percentage of the budget.

Police when Measure M was adopted received 39.49 cents of every general fund dollar spent while fire services received 18.38 cents of every dollar. Overall, law public safety in Manteca gets 57.85 cents of every dollar spent from the general fund.

Now that the general fund has shrunk by $14 million due primarily to massive drops in property and sales tax driven by the weakened economy, the amount of money from the general fund that is spent on police and fire has gone down proportionately as well. As for the Measure M receipts, each and every penny that’s paid of the half cent sales tax is going to police and fire manpower.

Without Measure M, 11 police officers currently on the street would not have been hired nor would Manteca have a fourth fire engine manned 24/7. Had voters not passed Measure M, the city would still be facing the layoff of 16 police officers. If officers opt not to forgo future pay increases and gives up some of their current paycheck to pay more toward retirement – it is their choice as an organization – Manteca’s police force would go from 72 down to 56. If Measure M had not passed, the police force would be down to 45 officers. Regardless of what happens, four officers will ultimately be funded in a few months with federal stimulus money so if layoffs do occur there will be 12 less officers.

It is as simple as that.

No one wants to see anyone lose money just as no one wants to see less police officers except, of course, criminals who also happen to have no problem with you losing money as well.

The problem, of course, is money or more precisely the lack of it.

Everyone I know has taken hits in this economic downturn. It didn’t matter whether they acted responsible or not. The economic bloodletting is universal.

Few – if any people – who live in Manteca are getting pay raises. They’re lucky if they still have a 40-hour-a-week job or even a job at all as well as the fact Manteca now has a 13.8 percent unemployment rate with a number of other people who have had hours reduced.

Don’t think that those people wouldn’t gladly give up negotiated raises in 2010 and 2011 if it meant keeping their 40-hour job instead of being unemployed or having hours cut back 20 percent or so.

It is – for better or worse – a brave new world.

Working stiffs in the United States know that things have changed. This country has experienced the largest average household income drop ever recorded. Housing prices in Manteca have plunged by close to 60 percent. Foreclosures have thrown people out of their homes., The state- which still apparently hasn’t gotten the message – has found ways to raise taxes (they call them revenue enhancement these days) while slashing everyone but the ranks of the powerful state employee groups that help grease their campaigns. The federal government continues to create bureaucratic jobs at a neck breaking pace.

No one in Manteca need apologize. We gave money when we had it to support community services. We even agreed to tax ourselves more to improve the level of those services.

Now that everything is retracting – personal wealth, personal income, and virtually everything economically – the money just isn’t there.

We will get through this. There are signs the hits on the private sector are starting to level out but the recovery will be long.  Employment is expected to take years to return to pre-Great Recession levels. This means the predictions that government revenue will be down for as long as five to six years are probably true.

We can only support what we can.

All the anger and frustration in the world won’t change that.
Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...