Manteca — after years of elected leaders repeatedly stating their top priorities included attainable housing for those that work locally and homeless concerns — are now in the hunt for someone to oversee the city’s efforts in both areas.
A job posting went up after the City Council last week approved a $68.5 million general fund budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 that includes funding for a housing and homeless services manager.
Approval of the budget also allowed staff to seek applications for an additional entry level police officer.
The housing and homeless services manager has a salary range of $112,896 to $137,332 annually.
That compares to an entry level police officer at $87,053 to $122,000 a year.
The general fund also includes money for a third new position — a projects manager to move public works forward. A posting for that position calls it a senior engineer job with an annal salary range of $118,488 to $144,024.
While there are other new positions authorized in the overall municipal budget of $207 million covered from separate funding accounts such as enterprise funds for sewer, water, and solid waste there are only three new jobs being paid for with general fund receipts that pay for day-to-day municipal services such as police, fire, parks, street upkeep and general government.
All three new general fund position are targeting task elected officials have determined are more critical than other pressing needs.
The new housing and homeless services manager would allow one person in administration to be dedicated to both issues.
The city — between contracted services for day-to-day homeless programs through the emergency shelter as well as the one dedicated police officer to address homeless issues — is spending just over $1 million annually.
The figure is higher once park department costs of daily cleaning where homeless spend the night such as on the sidewalk in front of the library as well as service calls for police and fire response are factored into the equation.
For years, elected officials have agreed it made sense to have a dedicated position. Not only is the rationale it will help to move homeless initiatives forward in a timelier manner but it will also free up city manager analysts’ time that at one point was taking up 25 percent of the person’s time.
In doing so, there are other tasks for community projects that don’t involve the homeless that can be tackled.
In the past, however, they didn’t think the city was in a position where it could afford to do so.
Now that the city is moving forward with a permanent homeless navigation center, the workload associated with homeless issues for city staff will be increasing.
It has been noted over the years having someone with the expertise that homeless grants require and the ability to focus only on moving homeless initiatives forward would result in better outcomes on the streets and in the general community. It also could make Manteca more competitive for state, federal and private grants for homeless endeavors.
It is also expected to free up the police officer from administrative style tasks coordinating with agencies that have services to help Manteca in its bid to reduce the number of homeless on the streets. That would mean the officer would have more time to work the streets.
The position, though, is not 100 percent committed to the homeless. The housing portion addresses the city’s obligations to oversee fair housing laws that are now farmed out on a contract basis to the county.
The city is also hopeful inroads could be made at improving the attainability of housing in Manteca for those with local paychecks.
The city has a number of smaller projects that funding is available to complete but lacks the staffing to do the necessary engineering and oversight work. In the past, the city has paid outside engineers as consultants to do such work on a job-by-job basis.
The concept is to bring that work in-house with a project manager in the public works department..
In doing so it will reduce costs given the tight labor market is making such outside contracts more expensive.
It also will reduce the time involved in moving projects forward.
Councils have always made more police staffing a top priority as money is available.
One officer is being recruited immediately.
The budget approved by the council also includes three firefighters, a police lieutenant and two police officers funded with Measure M sales tax receipts.
Those positions were approved based on the money being available by mid-year from the half cent public safety tax.
The City Council earlier this month made it clear they expected recruiting, screening, interviewing and background checks to be done for those six Measure M positions in advance of Jan. 1 so once the money is available the jobs can be filled.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org