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Says Manteca on verge of fiscal collapse for 40 years

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POSTED December 7, 2013 1:02 a.m.

Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

The recent “…tax & spend council liberals” editorial was interesting; however, I think the old proverb “The proof of the pudding is in the eating” is a better representation of the Manteca City Council’s measure of fiscal success.

Too often Council’s short-term fiscal “burps” are praised while the long term inability to fund community amenities, maintain proper levels of service, and provide timely maintenance of infrastructure is ignored. The community needs a reminder that the municipal budget is brought to financial brink every eight to ten years. A recent article highlights “the biggest factor in Manteca being able to get the structured deficit to the point it will either disappear this fiscal year or be within $150,000 of going away.” The article also notes that, “When a city’s annual budget has a structured deficit such as Manteca, it means they’re taking in less revenue during a fiscal year than they are spending. Cities often cover the gap with money set aside in reserves during previous years.”

Council’s structured deficit budgeting is not however a temporary fix in response to the current recession; it is their normal budgeting practice. As such, the problem simply comes to light during economic downturns. We were in the same structured deficit, budget recovery, and reduced service levels situation during the past three recessions. Frankly, unless the City Council does something different (and does not simply repeat the same old financial management scheme of past recession recoveries) the revenue deficit money pit will continue to grow deeper and move further away from being able to reach desired service levels.

We should be questioning why a municipal agency responsible for the protection and public services of its residents purposely manages the budget so it cannot maintain desired levels of protection and services. And, after experiencing a number of past financial downturns, elects to simply repeat past practices.

Manteca has been on the verge of fiscal collapse for over 40 years. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), declining service levels, lacking amenities, and deteriorating and poorly maintained infrastructure, have saved the day.

This is not rocket science. Frankly, common sense and basic checkbook accounting is simple stuff.

Benjamin Cantu

Manteca

Dec. 5, 2013

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