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Manteca municipal budget generates surplus
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Manteca municipal Finance Director Suzanne Mallory made a point to wear black to Wednesday’s City Council budget workshop.

It’s not that she was in mourning — quite the contrary. She was celebrating.

“I’m in black today,” Mallory told the council as she started her budget presentation. “This is the first time in 13 years I am able to present a truly structured balanced budget.”

That means the $33 million general fund spending plan for the next fiscal year starting July 1 will not require drawing down reserves or taping into bonus bucks to balance. Instead, there is a projected operational gain of $199,460 that the city will have on hand on June 30, 2016 that the council can direct to go into reserves such as for equipment and vehicle replacement.

The proposed budget includes $15.5 million in general fund reserves. The reserves are $8 million set aside as operating reserve for fiscal stability, cash flow and contingencies; $1.1 million set aside for economic revitalization; $3.2 million in reserve for economic uncertainties and emergencies; and $3.2 million in an undesignated fund balance.

In past years — especially during the Great Recession — the council had balanced budgets but they did so by taking money from reserves to cover gaps that existed between what they planned to spend and what they expected to collect in terms of revenue for the 12-month period the budget covers. They also used $11.4 million in bonus bucks — fees collected from developers to assure sewer allocation certainty for new homes — to bridge gaps as well as using more than $1 million in excise taxes collected on new home construction.

“I’m ecstatic,” Mayor Steve DeBrum said. “This is year one of a balanced budget.”

DeBrum said of not having to backfill the general fund spending needs from reserves as a major milestone.

“I’m very excited to have gotten where we are today,” the mayor added.

The spending plan also includes restoring one-time minor capital or supply requests that had been penciled out of budgets during the past six years due to the recession.

Among the items included this year in the budget are:

• $10,415 for equipment for the Manteca Police Department as part of the Mobile Field Force unit composed of multiple jurisdictions to respond to large crowd incidents.

• $8,000 for fire arson supplies.

• $14,520 for self-contained breathing apparatus for the fire department.

• $8,635 for an ice machine at the Manteca Senior Center.

• $15,000 for library books.

The city also is continuing to subsidize Manteca recreation programs to the tune of $200,000 and subsidizing reduced senior and youth golf play at the golf course for $155,000.

The budget also includes:

• funding for employee wage increases ranging from 2.2 to 3 percent based on the negotiated Memoranda of Understanding expiring on June 30, 2015.

• projected increases for employee wages and compensation based on council direction regarding current negotiations.

• moving a police captain position from the Public Safety Endowment Fund.

• hiring a police officer, a community service officer, and a booking officer for the Manteca Police Department.

• adding a parks/golf maintenance technician.

And if the council adopts a budget at the public hearing planned for the June 16 meeting it will mark the earliest time in at least 25 years that a municipal budget has been adopted.