City Manager Elena Reyes wants to spend $57,500 to brand municipal government so it can better connect with its customers — Manteca taxpayers, ratepayers, merchants, and residents.
It is part of a plan to spend an additional $330,621 over the next nine months that the City Council will consider when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
The request also includes:
u$5,000 for the city’s first State of the City event on Jan. 25, 2017 that will be by invitation only and will have a guest speaker from Google.
u$253,421 to hire a deputy city manager and an administrative staff technician. That is in addition to the current budget that added an economic development manager and management analyst to the city managers staff.
u$5,000 for executive team training and strategic planning sessions for City Council members.
u$9,700 for information technology for administrative offices and a conference room as well as essential office equipment. Two walls and two doors would also be installed to create two additional offices including one that will be used primarily by the mayor and council members.
The City Council did not include funding for a deputy city manager in the current budget. They opted instead to wait until a new city manager was on board.
When Steve Pinkerton left the city manager’s post on Sept. 1, 2011 after three years to take a similar post in Davis, his replacement — Karen McLaughlin — opted not to fill the deputy city manager’s position.
Her rationale was simple: Employees were being asked to do more work with less staff to help the city weather the recession. She felt it would be inappropriate for the position to be filled. McLaughlin was the city’s first ever deputy city manager before being elevated to city manager. She stepped down as city manager in July.
Several times in the ensuing years, council expressed concern that the workload was too heavy for McLaughlin to handle alone. At one point then Mayor Willie Weatherford indicated at a council meeting that he respected her decision to keep the position vacated but wondered if the city would pay the price in not being able to tackle projects and handle other business in a timely manner.
Reyes is correct that Manteca has never had a State of the City event per se, although in the past the Manteca Chamber of Commerce had staged similar events but not on the level that is now being suggested. Also in the past mayors would give what they called “state of the city” talks to various service clubs but that was it.
The State of the City program as envisioned would include a snapshot history of the City of Manteca and focus on Manteca’s vision moving forward. It would also include an economic review as well as a speaker from Google.
The city will partner with the chamber to host the event. The chamber will solicit sponsorships and manage the undertaking.
The $57,500 branding proposal is the outgrowth of an effort by a voluntary group of city workers that formed a Vision Manteca Team. They made a presentation to the council in June on values they developed for the city’s workforce.
Reyes in a report to the council made it clear the city seal — The Family City logo — would not be changed in the process. The last time it was changed was during the last decade when staff — without publically acknowledging it — removed the steeple from the house of worship that is on the city seal along with a home and some trees. It was apparently done for fear that the city might get sued although the Lathrop City Council since then has added the words “In God We Trust” behind the dais in that city’s council chambers.
In her report Reyes notes, “branding is a key element to providing quality customer service. Brands connect to customers, forms focus, motivate employees, create an experience, are a promise, provide value, create consistency and recognition. Branding includes IT enhancements to the City’s website and social media throughout City government. The Vision Manteca Team has initiated identification of the City’s values, and are prepared to lead the Branding effort to completion.”
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