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Building city savings of $250K annually
Work almost done on new vehicle maintenance building
Ken Cornell of Lathrop-based All Star Fences puts the finishing touches on the fence at the new City of Manteca vehicle maintenance building. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Manteca’s stressed general fund will eventually have annual savings of $250,000 once the $12.1 million makeover and modernization of the city’s corporation yard straddling Wetmore Street is done.

The first phase was the $2.1 million animal shelter that opened earlier year. In the next few weeks, the city’s vehicle maintenance crews will start moving into a new $4.7 million facility on the southeast corner of South Main and Wetmore streets.

The next phase will include buildings to centralize operations that are spread across Manteca including three different locations housing parts of the water department maintenance operations. Once all work is done, the city will be able to complete management restructuring to  permanently reduce manpower and support needs that are not front-line in nature.

Gearing up for that, the city eliminated two positions in vehicle maintenance at the end of last year. That left seven workers including six mechanics with one as lead worker and a parts specialist to care for close to 400 vehicles ranging from police cars to garbage trucks.

There will also be a significant savings from simply having a new building for vehicle maintenance that is built with modern-day efficiencies in mind..

The two-tone steel proletarian structure won’t win any architectural contests. Compared, however, to the existing vehicle maintenance building it’s practically a Taj Mahl.

The existing facility has two access doors for vehicles. The new building has 10. That in its self will reduce costs by eliminating time consuming movements of vehicles. Currently vehicles have to be constantly moved due to limited access and “stacked” work areas.

The new building also emulates modern-day dealership service centers where parts, equipment, and access are all coordinated. The converted former South San Joaquin Irrigation District building now housing the vehicle maintenance that was once reportedly used as a horse barn has been repeatedly modified inside in Winchester House fashion to accommodate basic work as well as more sophisticated diagnostic equipment.

The existing wood and corrugated metal building that was erected when Model T Fords were in style can’t accommodate large vehicles such as fire engines and garbage trucks.  That means whenever garbage trucks and fire engines that can cost $300,000 apiece need work they are parked under a makeshift canopy that still exposes the vehicle to the elements as it is being serviced.

“We’ll be going from early 20th century to the 21st century,” noted Jim Stone of the Public Works Department.

Actually the move will end up making Manteca money as well. It allowed for a contract with Metro PCS for a cell tower to the southeast of the new vehicle maintenance building. The deal’s term provide Manteca with $775,000 over 25 year  plus ownership of the tower the wireless firm will erect. That translates into an average of $31,000 a year flowing into the city’s general fund.

The existing water tower is not high enough to accommodate a wireless cell system antennae.

Making the impact of the savings and income - $281,000 a year - more effective is the fact the overall project is being financed using growth fees that are collected for the specific purpose of city government faculties which mean they cannot be used for anything else.

The tab is also being covered in part by charges to enterprise accounts such as water and sewer that have operations making use of various facilities as well as the sale of surplus city property expected  to net $1 million.

The current vehicle maintenance building will house the street division temporarily while a new building for that division is built., About this time next year both the old vehicle maintenance building and the water tower will be torn down.

Stone noted being able to stay at the Wetmore location with room for growth means the corporation yard will still be central to Manteca. In many cities, the corporation yard is at an edge of the community.

A dedication ceremony for the new building is being planned for September.