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13 of 15 spots filled on city budget ad-hoc committee
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Thirteen citizens so far have been tapped to help provide municipal leaders with guidance on the best way to eliminate a projected $11.3 million deficit expected to start surfacing in the next fiscal year starting July 1.

A 15-member budget advisory committee is being formed by the Manteca City Council to provide counsel on how best to deal with the looming municipal deficit.

The group will meet with staff at least three times to review the city’s budget. They will also provide input on proposed budget cuts, service levels, and possible “revenue enhancements.” The idea is to collect more possible budget solutions plus obtain a public perspective on potential changes in the level of service.

The committee would have a fairly tight meeting schedule as input is desired by March to allow staff to consolidate their findings into 2009-10 budget discussions scheduled for May.

The 13 people appointed so far are Sylvia Low, Charlotte Stafford, JoAnne Jamerson, Bruce Bentz, Kevin Wentworth, Maryann Morrison, Rick Arucan, Steve Timothy Keegan, Eric McMurtrey, Kirk Dall, Fred Milner, Eric Whole, and Christina Crutchfield.  Councilman SteveDeBrum will offer two additional names forward at the Feb. 3 City Council meeting.

City Manager Steve Pinkerton noted during a council retreat that cost saving measures already being put in place or strategies the city is mulling could cover about half of the projected deficit as things stand now. The city doesn’t currently have a deficit but will start accumulating one next fiscal year if the trends on both the revenue and expenditure side that were noted in December continue unchanged.

Among the measures impacting general fund expenses the council has taken so far include:

• providing an enticement for eight employees to take early retirement to save up to $892,068.

• reclassifying an existing redevelopment specialist as a permit technician to save $200,000 in annual costs by eliminating two contract positions. The new position will be funded 100 percent with RDA funds and will cost $20,000 less than the redevelopment specialist positions it is replacing.

• creating an accounting analyst position in the finance department while eliminating nearly three positions including the utilities supervisors and purchasing analyst jobs to save $100,000.

The savings could push $2 million if another six to eight employees take advantage of a one-time offer to give two years credit toward retirement in exchange for retiring early.