Coming out of the recession, city leaders didn’t want Manteca to become encumbered with staff that was highly dependent on growth workload to justify full-time positions.
Keeping ongoing staff costs in line as well as avoiding future costs such as adding to the city’s pension commitments was also part of the equation.
At the same time they wanted to be nimble enough to be responsive in a timely manner to residents who may be seeking approval for a room addition or developers seeking to build a 500-room hotel.
That is why for the past four years as Manteca growth has picked up steam the surge in building permit activity handled by the Community Development Department that requires reviewing of plans before building permits can be issued as well as inspection services are being handled by contractual employees.
Last week the council awarded a $500,000 contract to Consulting Group and a $100,000 to CGS Consultants to tackle additional workload involving plan check services.
The term “consultant” in the firms’ name is a misnomer of sorts for what work they are doing. They are providing qualified work for specific mandated tasks and not for developing general planning or operational strategies.
The city also is able to secure specialized skills they may not have for certain permits such as the construction of a five-story, 500-room resort hotel and indoor water park.
When there is less work, the city cuts back on the contracted services. And if it returns to the level that is do-able with city staff, the city doesn’t make use of the outside services.
It is a fairly straight-forward and simple process to use for permit review and inspections given the building fees charged for a small residential or existing commercial project to a massive million square foot distribution cover incurred costs whether they are contracted work or staff personnel.
The bottom line is that it eliminates the future need for layoffs and doesn’t create an unsustainable burden for taxpayers by subsidizing the community development department work through the general plan which would mean taking money away from services such as police, fire, and street maintenance.
There has been a bonus benefit in the current economy that has created a very shallow pool of qualified experts to check plans and inspect construction that cities can hire.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org