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Citys green thumb saves money
Glowing report on landscape maintenance districts
Part of the 23 landscape maintenance districts the city took over on July 1. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Everything is coming up roses just 10 months after Manteca took over the city’s 23 landscape maintenance districts they previously contracted out to private firms.

• The general fund has saved $261,000 due to park workers transferred to the LMDs.

• Water use has been slashed by more than 10 percent which in turn is saving money.

• The city convinced the consultant that does the statutory work for financial oversight to lower his costs going from about $100,000 for all of the districts down to $34,000 a year that included a three-year contract with no increase.

• Response time to graffiti and other vandalism has been greatly improved as city workers are available daily instead of weekly.

• Devices have been installed to remotely monitor water that will detect breaks in lines and shut systems down so areas aren’t flooded overnight when a problem occurs. The same system also alerts city crews of problems plus allows remotely changing watering scheduling depending upon the weather.

• Perennial problem plantings have been replaced with new shrubs and trees to eliminate the potential for problems to power lines and sound walls.

• Gopher and rodent problems have been virtually eliminated.

• Water coverage issues have been addressed eliminating brown spots.

• No complaints have been received about the quality of maintenance which, in many cases, has actually gone up after transitioning from private to public maintenance.

Kevin Fant – a certified arborist – who splits his time between supervising the maintenance of around 350 acres of parks and maintaining the landscape maintenance districts that consist of more than 50 acres made a presentation to the City Council on Tuesday night.

How the cost savings will impact the price homeowners within an LMD are assessed each year will be determined in the coming weeks.

Even so, at least one resident who lives in an LMD - Bill Bennett who resides in Del Webb at Woodbridge - wants to make sure that costs are actually in line for the work being done.

He is concerned the assessment for Del Webb homeowners may be too high since the only part of the LMD that is being maintained by the city is the median landscaping on Union Road. The rest of the LMD is being maintained by Pulte Homes, the firm that is developing Del Webb at Woodbridge.

Bennett, who last year along with other Del Webb residents and Pulte Homes representatives, worked with the city to have the LMD serving Woodbridge basically be dormant while the developer took care of the maintenance, oversaw LMDs in Tracy before retiring.

The current trend on Manteca may be going toward having more parks workers employed by LMDs than the general fund. There are now at least four new neighborhoods where the park maintenance is paid by nearby homeowners via LMDs. All new subdivision maps require parks as well as street lighting to be placed in a LMD. If the trend continues, Manteca may be in a position to keep the park maintenance staffing flat until such time they add another community park.