By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
60.9% of city general fund is pay & benefits for 474 workers
city manteca logo

Manteca has been doing what it can within existing resources to attract qualified talent — as well as retain effective personnel — needed to provide municipal services for a growing city of 91,000.

City  leaders have stressed that in the newly adopted budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, only 5 of the 44 general fund positions department heads identified as crucial to keep existing or targeted service level goals for residents were approved.

And — as City Councilman Charlie Halford pointed out — only two of the positions (two additional police officers) were actually funded with general fund revenue per se.

The other three were park maintenance workers.

Those three positions are funded with transfers from defined community facilities districts set up to pay for the cost of ongoing park maintenance and other expenses in new neighborhoods. Homeowners in those neighborhoods pay for the labor and operation costs associated with the parks.

If the trend continues — meaning the city can’t find new general fund revenue to help cover a large number of parks in Manteca not maintained by annual CFD assessments — the likelihood is you will be able to tell the difference between a CFD park and a 100 percent general fund park in its landscaping and how it is groomed.

It’s a stark reminder of a number of realties.

*Workers — in the form of police officers, firefighters, street crews, recreation aides, and such — are how services are delivered to the city’s 91,000 residents.

*Wages and benefits account for 60.9 percent of all of the projected $73.8 million general fund budget for next year, a figure that falls roughout in line with California’s other 481 cities.

*Taxes such as those collected on new growth for specific services through CFDs can only be used as intended. In short, it is illegal to use CFD funds operating for park workers they fund to work on a non-CFD park.

*Manteca is not just competing for qualified workers with nearby cities and the Northern San Joaquín Valley private sector, but Bay Area municipalities as well. That is true not just for police and firefighters that typically commute across the Altamont Pass during non-peak times but positions that require extensive specialized training and are in high demand such as wastewater treatment plant operators.

 It is against the backdrop Manteca is trying to retain and attract city workers.

A year ago, Manteca — which currently has 474 budgeted employees in the general fund and enterprise funds (sewer, water, solid waste) — had nearly 12 percent of its funded positions vacant.

Manteca was actually doing better at the time than San Joaquin County that was struggling to fill 1,239 open positions or 17 percent of its budgeted 7,942 workers.

Such a situation doesn’t necessarily free up money.

Critical work that can’t be delayed still has to be done such as police and fire protection and running the day-to-day needs of the municipal water and sewer system. As such, overtime costs skyrocket.

Other work that isn’t a question of assuring public safety and health, still needs to be done. That often forces the city to contract with outside concerns to plug holes in its ability to deliver services.

And many of those unfilled positions often have a snowball impact and can cost the city money in the long run by missing out on everything from funding sources to not being able to stay on top of critical operational needs such as keeping financial books current.


All senior management

is now at will employees

Manteca has been working at changing arguably the most basic element of attracting and retaining employees — compensation.

And at the same time city leaders wanted to address structural issues on how the city is operated that can be determinantal to it being nimble and making innovative decisions.

One of the key moves was to do what many general law cities do — make all department heads at will employees just like the city manager and city attorney.

It gives the city flexibility to change horses, so to speak, when they are not effectively helping pull the proverbial wagon forward and to do so without incurring costly lawsuits and such as occurred in recent years.

Another issue the city is trying to remedy is what is known as compaction.

In a nutshell, the city manager — based on contract language — would automatically get a set percentage more than the highest paid department head.

When Tim Odgen was city manager, the compaction policy provided close to a 10 percent gap.

The city got rid of compaction for the city manager and senior management staff.

However, it has been having unintended consequence especially when it comes to senior management.

Currently, police captains are almost making as much as the police chief whose salary — to stay competitive and to assure he makes more than those salaried individuals he supervises — would need to be raised to the point he was making more than the city manager.


Cost of living increases &

stepping up the pay scale

Elected leaders have embraced the need to be competitive to retain and attract employees.

Salary surveys of similar sized  jurisdictions — as well as those competing for the same worker pool such as selected Bay Area cities — are taken into account when establishing pay schedules every two to four years through contract negotiations.

All city employees are receiving a 2 percent cost of living increased based on the San Francisco District consumer price index.

That is on top of step increases — based primarily on longevity — that 48 percent of city’s rank and file workforce qualified for in the coming fiscal year.

On Tuesday, the City Council granted City Manager Toni Lundgren and City Attorney Dave Nefouse a 2 percent cost of living adjustment as it did the rest of the city employees.

Lundgren got an additional 4 percent and Nefouse an additional 2 percent.

For all practical purposes, the means Lundgren got a step raise on top of the COLA as did 48 percent of the rank and file hourly workers.

Even with the raise that jumps Lundgren from $255,000 to $270,000, Manteca is paying its city manager less that comparable cities.

Based on salary adjustments that are six months to a year old, city managers in Lathrop make $280,000, Brentwood $287,243, Elk Grove $315,000, Livermore $344,796, Modesto $277,701, Stockton $312,898, and Tracy $296,566.
Lodi and Turlock were the only two cities that were lower than Manteca. Lodi’s city manager salary is $269,682 and Turlock’s is $235,704.

Both Lundgren and Nefouse were awarded three-year contracts by the council.

Councilman Halford noted several weeks ago that some critics of a proposed sales tax increase have stated there are against it because part of it will likely go to fund employee raises.

Halford said keeping the city competitive is key to retaining and attracting the best candidates that will do the best job for the city.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email