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City spending $89K in bid to get part of $800 billion
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Manteca is spending $89,000 again for the services of a lobbying firm that specializes in pitching projects before Congressional leaders and key bureaucrats who give the thumbs up and thumbs down to how special federal funds are distributed to local jurisdictions.

Manteca’s prime target is picking up additional money from the unallocated portion of the $800 billion federal stimulus package. At the same time the firm - Van Scoyoc Associates - advised the city to apply for $500,000 to fund a Peace Keeper program to work with gangs to negotiate truces and help gang members shed their gang connections and obtain jobs. The lobbying firm determined that based on the city’s profile that it is a strong candidate to receive federal dollars to help fund such programs.

This is the second year for Van Scoyoc Associates to work on Manteca’s behalf. The initial year the firm made requests and contacts for various Manteca projects. Not obtaining money in the initial year isn’t unusual, according to City Manager Steve Pinkerton. Other jurisdictions from the Central Valley that have retained the firm’s services typically received federal funds from the firm’s lobbying efforts in their second year in contract due to how federal appropriations work.

Mayor Willie Weatherford isn’t impressed. It is his belief that given the current budget situation and political climate that the lobbying firm will not be able to obtain significant additional funds for the city. Weatherford was the only council member last week to vote against extending the contract.

The $89,000 Manteca spending on the lobbying firm will not come from the general fund that is facing a deficit of up to $3.8 million in the fiscal year starting July 1.

Instead it will be cobbled together from three restricted accounts dealing with water, sewer, and transportation improvements where growth or users cover the tab. None of that money can be used to help balance the general fund under state law.

While Van Scoyoc has yet to secure money for Manteca, research by the municipal staff shows they consistently return significantly more money than they are paid by other nearby jurisdictions.

As an example, Elk Grove has received $750,000 based on $240,000 paid to the lobbying firm, Stockton has received $4,334,500 on $240,000 paid, and Galt has received $3.6 million on $160,000 paid.

Staff has indicated Van Scoyoc Associates in the past year “has provided valuable assistance” in helping the city prepare applications for federal funding for various municipal projects including public infrastructure and gang prevention activities. The projects are now under review in Washington, D.C.

Those two infrastructure projects are the $15 million Union Road interchange upgrade and a $10 million water main project for South Manteca.