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Adams trying to save another city

Retired Manteca manager is interim leader for Desert Hot Springs

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POSTED November 18, 2013 12:30 a.m.

Bob Adams  — the Manteca city manager that played a key role in major civic and private sector improvements ranging from Speckles Park and Big League Dreams to landing Bass Pro Shops — is now helping a second California city on the ropes financially since his retirement in 2008.

Adams was hired as interim city manager in Desert Hot Springs in Southern California city on Sept. 3. On Tuesday, he is asking that city’s council to declare a fiscal emergency to avoid filing for bankruptcy.

Adams was hired by Vallejo as its interim city manager after it hit the financial skids in 2008. He stayed in that job until 2010 guiding the city out of bankruptcy while helping rebuild Vallejo’s financial foundation.

Desert Hot Springs has spent the past several years spending too much money while drawing down reserves to cover the deficit spending. Adams told the Associated Press that the city only has enough cash to pay its bills through March. When Adams was hired in September, the city was operating on a budget that anticipated $14 million in revenue while spending $20 million.  The budget essentially will deplete the reserves before the fiscal year ends June 30.

“We’re going to have to start taking some corrective actions,” Adams is quoted as saying. “Certainly, we want to avoid bankruptcy.”

If the city goes into bankruptcy it won’t be the first time. The city near Palm Springs declared bankruptcy in 2001 after facing a $9 million legal judgment and emerged from protection in 2004.

About 70 percent of the city’s budget is tied up in public safety costs. It is the same issue coupled with rising pension costs and plunging revenue that sent Stockton and Vallejo into federal bankruptcy court. A third California city — Mammoth Lakes — is in bankruptcy court due to a major court judgment.

Manteca was headed down the same path but took corrective action sooner. They were able to renegotiate contracts with employee groups and make other moves that will come close to wiping out deficit spending patterns this fiscal year. If all goes according to plan, Manteca will only dip into reserves $150,000 this year to cover a shortfall in revenue. In years past Manteca has had to take as much as $6 million from reserves to keep the city operating.

During his 11 years in Manteca the city jumped 20,000 in population. Other projects Adams had a key role in included the downtown revitalization, the Stadium Retail Center, the wastewater treatment plant upgrade and expansion, the surface water treatment plant, the Union Road fire station, Del Webb at Woodbridge, and the Measure M half cent sales tax for public safety.

He was Lafayette’s city manager prior to being hired by Manteca. Adams also worked after his retirement as interim human resources director in Madera in 2011

As a retiree in the state’s retirement system, Adams is only permitted to work a maximum of 960 hours per fiscal year. The Desert Hot Springs job is paying him $93.75 per hour without benefits.

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