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Deficit: 50% building related
Goal: Make development pay its own way
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Manteca is spending between $1.5 million and $2 million in staff time related to the processing of development projects, building plans, and inspecting construction.

If Manteca could retrieve a large chunk of that in increased fees it would go a long way toward covering the working $3.8 million municipal deficit for the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2010. It actually isn’t impacting this year’s budget as a development services fund has been set up that takes all of the expenses that are incurred and tracks them against revenue. A $1.7 million loan from the redevelopment agency allowed the cost shift move to get off the ground.

Cost recovery charges are being established for community development and building safety expenditures that can legally be charged to developers and others who submit plans or request building permits.

City staff is working with the building community – primary new home developers – to finalize a new set of cost recovery fees. The target is to present them to the City Council on June 15 so that they can be factored into the budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

There is general agreement between the elected council, city staff, and home builders that it would not be prudent to go to 100 percent cost recovery right out of the gate.

The council’s big concern, though, is making sure fees for processing business parks or employment centers do not take Manteca out of the running for jobs.

Recovery cost implementation would impact everyone from the shopping center and housing developer to the average citizen who needs a building permit for everything from an electrical panel replacement or a water heater installation to reroofing.

Other cities shifted to 100 percent cost recovery years ago. Manteca has been subsidizing the fees paid for processing plans and permits for years from the general fund.

The goal is to wean development processing work off of subsidizes from the general fund.

It is one of two long-term financial moves the city is undertaking to make sure that general fund activities of the city stand on their own two feet. The other is to wean off the use of bonus bucks to balance the budget.

Over the past eight years, the city has used $12.2 million in bonus bucks collected for residential sewer certainty to balance the general fund including a $6 million infusion this fiscal year. The bonus bucks dry up when housing slows down.

By the same token, if the city recovers costs where they can legally do so in the community development department services when dealing with building and development projects it would reduce the need to take away from money that could otherwise go for police and fire services.