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Just one layoff for Manteca
Budget starting July 1 represents 9.7% cut in spending
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Manteca, thanks to pre-emptive belt-tightening 18 months ago that included major employee compensation concessions, is expected to lay off just one worker in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

And that layoff can directly be tied to the California Legislature’s swiping of $7.1 million in redevelopment agency funds.

That is in stark contrast to most other neighboring jurisdictions that are making significantly more layoffs to deal with budget deficits triggered by the Great Recession.

Manteca’s proposed general fund spending plan for the coming fiscal year is $29,717,753 or 9.7 percent less than the current budget. The budget adopted for the current fiscal year was $32,804,889 which represented a 19.2 decrease over general fund spending for the 2008-09 fiscal year.

City Manager Steve Pinkerton credits the success of matching spending with shrinking revenue with “hard-working city employees” that stepped up in terms of making needed concessions plus helped rethink how to best deliver municipal services with reduced staffing.

Pinkerton noted the city is dedicated to looking for more ways to cut spending and improve efficiency to be able to go into the 2011-12 fiscal year on even more solid ground. Part of Manteca being able to bridge the $3.8 million deficit that was projected for the fiscal year starting July 1 was through spending down reserves.

The employee contracts all come up during the next fiscal year giving Manteca the opportunity to renegotiate terms. Most employee groups had agreed to concessions to those existing contracts that included forgiving negotiated pay raises and taking pay cuts through furlough days that translated into average pocketbook hits of 10 percent.

Those concessions were agreed to after the city promised not to have any more layoffs during the fiscal year that ends on June 30. Technically, there were three layoffs last month after the state took $7.1 million in redevelopment agency funds.

The layoffs were in the Community Development Department that was operating in part on a loan from the RDA that was being repaid as building permits were processed. However, the swiping of RDA money plus a slowdown in building triggered the three layoffs.

What the city did was instead of keeping them working agreed to pay them through June 30 while they looked for other jobs. The city though was able to find vacant positions that two of the employees qualified for in enterprise operations such as sewer, water, and refuse collection that are covered by users’ fees. A position has yet to be found for the third worker. If one isn’t found on July 1, that employee will be without a city pay check and job.

The added benefit of the concessions for employees is that it appears no one else will suffer layoffs in the coming 12.5 months. Pinkerton pointed out that is because of the employee groups working closely with the city much earlier than in nearby jurisdictions to get payroll costs down that in turn reduced deficit spending.

Pinkerton cautioned that there are still serious concerns ahead in terms of things the state could do to hamper Manteca’s recovery.

Regardless of that, he noted sales tax and property tax both appear to be leveling out.

The city still has a general fund structured deficit that is expected to be addressed with new employee contracts as well as rethinking how the city does business.

Pinkerton has continually stressed even after the economy stabilizes that the city will not be able to go back to business as usual forcing the need to keep looking for efficiencies to save money.