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Manteca faces $4M gap
Employee contracts expire at end of 2011
Manteca Finance Director Suzanne Mallory goes over revenue and expenditures during a recent council workshop on where the city is at financially midway through the current fiscal year. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Manteca has to come up with a way to save $4 million in order to make expenses match anticipated revenue for the fiscal year starting July 1.

City Manager Steve Pinkerton noted that the task will be much more challenging than in the last several years when the city was able to balance budgets  including bridging a gap of $11.5 million one year.

While property tax has flattened as projected and sales tax is coming in at a clip 8 percent higher than anticipated, the city is still faced with the need to cut expenses.

It leaves the city no other choice but to try to find the bulk of that money somehow from employee-related costs. The city has shed more than 80 positions over the past several years.

Employee costs skyrocketed as positions were added and an attempt was made to bring salaries in line with similar cities when the housing boom got underway in earnest in the late 1990s. During a seven-year period, costs soared from $12 million to $30 million for payroll, benefits and retirement contributions.

At the same time the state Public Employees Retirement System went from asking for no contributions based on returns they were earning from investments to a requiring a fairly large chunk to be paid by cities and counties to cover the cost of keeping the retirement system solvent in the long run.

Contracts for all bargaining groups expire on Dec. 31 - midway into the next fiscal year.

Pinkerton said the goal is to get contracts in place by May to allow the city to budget as accurately as possible for the fiscal year starting July 1. By doing so, it would also mean any reductions that employee groups may have to take can be spread over 12 months instead of in the six months after contracts expire on Dec. 31.