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City Hall closing 29 extra days
Strategy is to reduce costs, increase public access
New Manteca Hours - photo by Bulletin photo
Most Manteca City Hall offices are going to be closed 29 extra days this year.
Nine are unpaid furlough days while the other 20 days are to allow the city to expand service hours for the public on the days offices remain open.
It is part of a two-prong approach by the city to reduce costs in the face of a looming $11.3 million deficit in the fiscal year starting July 1 as well as to improve public access.
City Manager Steve Pinkerton and department heads noticed that the public tended to access city offices heavier on Monday through Thursday than on Friday. They also understood the frustration of people trying to get to city hall offices after or before work.
The new schedule that goes into effect March 1 has most city offices closed every other Friday. Current hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The new hours on Monday through Thursday starting March 1 will be 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The alternating Fridays offices are open will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The first Friday closure is March 13.
Assistant City Manager Karen McLaughlin said essential services will still be operating such as police - including the lobby area – fire, sewer, water, and garbage service. The senior center will also be open.
McLaughlin noted the move doesn’t reduce payroll but it will save city energy costs as well as reduce the carbon footprint of most of the 385 workers who won’t be driving to and from work every Friday.
Manteca’s 385 municipal workers have agreed to take a 3.8 percent pay cut starting in July to help the city weather its approaching budget crisis.
The city – which has been running against the tide of dropping property and sales tax on borrowed time thanks to a $12.2 million infusion of bonus bucks paid by developers for residential sewer allocation certainty – has a projected $11.3 million budget deficit brewing in the fiscal year starting July 1.
The pay cut amounts to $1.2 million. It is part of a number of steps that Pinkerton believes will bridge at least half of the impending budget deficit.
Most city workers who don’t deal with essential services such as police, fire, water, sewer, and solid waste will take their nine unpaid furlough days in November and December. It is at a time that public access to city hall offices is at a minimum.
The first series of furlough days starts Friday, Nov. 20, prior to Thanksgiving. The next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are non-paid days effectively giving most city workers a string of 10 days off once Thanksgiving and the day after is factored into the equation along with the two weekends.
The next series of furlough days starts Dec. 24. It includes Monday, Dec. 28, through Thursday, Dec. 31. Once New year’s Day, Christmas and two weekends are factored in, most municipal workers will have 11 straight days off work with five of them non-paid.
McLaughlin said essential employees will have their furlough days spread throughout the year.