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Manteca may charge $600 for permit to sell fireworks
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A permit fee as high as $600 per organization selling fireworks is being floated as one way the Manteca Fire Department could raise revenue to help cover a looming gap in the 2009-10 fiscal year municipal budget.

It is among a number of brainstorming ideas that the city’s fire personnel have listed in a bid to provide the 15-member citizens budget committee with possible recommendations they could make to help the Manteca City Council determine the best way to close an $11.3 million deficit.

About half of that budget hole is expected to be plugged by strategies already being put in place or are in the process of being implemented, according to City Manager Steve Pinkerton.

There are 14 non-profits that sell fireworks each year in the City of Manteca. The non-profits are selected by lottery each year. Permits would generate an estimated $7,500 annually.

The biggest revenue source, though, would simply be making those who have state mandated inspections that require the fire department to do them or have inspection work for construction projects to pay the actual cost of staff time. That could generate $1.7 million annually.

Additional tower lease agreements at fire stations for firms such as Sprint and T-Mobile could bring in $44,000 annually.

Cost saving strategies either in place or being considered for the 2009-10 fiscal year include maintaining two division chief vacancies to save $440,000, reduce the firefighter reserve force to save $25,000 annually and to fill any firefighter post that must be filled when they become vacant with a firefighter trainee position to save $32,000 per firefighter.

Medium range strategies over the next two to three years include civilianizing the fire prevention division and reorganizing the command structure.

The last option would involve re-evaluating daily minimum staffing levels as well as having a “brown out” of some equipment on a rotating basis by not manning it.

Other cost savings strategies include delaying the opening of a fourth station to save $1.4 million in annual operating costs, switch from T-1 to microwave dispatching for a $7,000 annual savings, and switching to a 48/96 firefighter schedule with a progressive performance requirement to reduce sick leave to save $25,000 annually.

Although not related to the general fiund deficit, the fire department  administration is also pushing for an update in the fire facility fee that hasn’t been raised since 2001 when it was adopted without an inflation clause. Since then, the cost of building a fire station has ballooned from $1.2 million to $4.5 million while purchasing a fire engine and equipping it has gone from $700,000 to $1 million.

The fee on new construction established in 2001 is 30 cents per square foot for residential, 13 cents per square foot for commercial, and 3 cents per square foot for industrial.