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Reorganization shifts $651,000 in fire costs to Measure M
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A reorganization that is designed to streamline the Manteca Fire Department’s response to major fire and rescue incidents plus shift costs to Measure M receipts could help save the stressed municipal general fund $651,000.

The existing fire department command structure has a fire chief and four division chiefs. The division chiefs also rotate as the duty chief on a 24-hour basis. The duty chief responds to emergencies from the office during the day and from home after normal business hours to handle the role of incident chief.

The plan calls for eliminating the four division chiefs and create three 24-hour shift commanders and one deputy chief. The shift commanders will be funded through the Measure M public safety tax while the deputy chief will be a general fund position.

The shift commanders will be readily available to respond directly from a fire station. It also means the administrative staff will no longer be interrupted from meetings and important projects during business hours to respond to emergencies.

The firefighters are also agreeable to reopen their contract to reduce salary, benefits, and overtime.

The balance of the proposal calls for firefighters giving up 4 percent cost of living raises, reducing the number of firefighters allowed off each shift, and reducing overtime.

The proposal is being presented to the Manteca City Council during Tuesday’s 7 p.m. meeting at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

On the same agenda is a resolution that would allow the city to continue to operate after July 1 without an adopted budget for the 2009-10 fiscal years.

The move would keep the present budget framework in place while the city waits for more definitive numbers on sales tax and property tax that account for 50 percent of the municipal general fund.

It is the general fund that is under duress. The current budget year that ends June 30 is not in deficit spending as it is a balanced budget. That isn’t the case for the 2009-10 fiscal year that starts in 17 days.

Back in December staff projected an $11.3 million deficit if spending and revenue patterns at that point in time continued.

The City Council and staff has since taken steps the whittled that amount down and has left between $2 million and $3 million to cut.

That was before the state indicated they will seize between $950,000 and $1.2 million in property taxes after voters rejected ballot measures to help with the state’s $24 billion deficit.

Then this past week Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger indicated he may seek up to 75 percent of the gas tax set aside for local governments. In Manteca’s case, that could go as high as $1.4 million.

If property tax and sales tax numbers are what the city projected back in December and don’t show improvement, Manteca could be two months into the fiscal year and discover they have a $5.6 million deficit thanks in a large part to state borrowing of property tax money and outright taking of gas tax receipts.