Stephanie Beauchaine may end up serving as Manteca’s interim finance director through the end of 2021.
Beauchaine was hired for six months on Aug. 31 in a bid to try and get the finance department back on track that at the time hadn’t been able to accomplish a list of duties and projects including balancing the general ledger.
A little over a month on the job, Beauchaine was able to inform the council of a number of critical issues and needs including $67 million in cash deficits caused by posting expenses and revenues to the wrong accounts. The most egregious — and easiest to rectify — was a $40 million cash deficit that occurred over three years. That involved work financed by a bond where the city never accessed the bond to draw down the account.
What the remaining $27 million deficit will mean to the city’s bottom line — such as if there isn’t money to cover specific deficits credited to the wrong account — has yet to be determined. But Beauchaine, who has been hired in the past to deal with similar situations in other cities, believes that what actual monetary shortfalls are uncovered will likely be covered by city’s reserves that she has characterized as being robust.
Assistant City Manager Lisa Blackmon noted that Beauchaine’s original contract was to end Feb. 28 before work on the delayed audit is expected to be completed.
Beauchaine is also working with the city to put in place a budget for the current year that started July 1. Manteca is using a provisional budget that is allowed under California law by simply use the spending plan from the previous fiscal year.
There are a number of in-house accounting and staffing issues the city is also hoping to clear up before starting its search for a permanent finance director.
Beauchaine is also helping the city deal with an anticipated $6.2 million shortfall in general fund revenue caused by the economic fallout from COVID-19 economic shutdowns.
The projected $6.2 million loss in hotel room tax, and other major revenue sources — while preliminary — is higher than the hit the Manteca general fund took in the initial year of the Great Recession impacts hitting Manteca in 2009 that led to the layoff of 12 police officers and other municipal employees taking a 20 percent across the board pay cut.
Manteca just over a year ago restored police staffing to 72 — the number Manteca had prior to budget cuts just over a decade ago. There are 76 police officer positions funded in the current budget.
There are city departments that haven’t been restored to pre-Great Recession levels. That includes street maintenance. The Great Recession hit Manteca when it had 65,993 residents or 21,000 less than today.
The impacts of the pandemic also means the half cent Public Safety tax that funds 15 firefighters and 17 police officers will take a 17 percent hit.
While Beauchaine has expressed the belief general fund reserves are adequate enough to cover deficits this fiscal year, the deficit is likely to continue to grow in the following years like it did in the Great Recession until a recovery is underway.
That raises the strong possibility elected leaders will have to entertain budget cuts, if not this fiscal year, then in the fiscal year year starting July 1, 2021.
The contract calls for Beauchaine to be paid $150 an hour.
While that seems high, as a contracted employee that is all she is being paid. The city is not paying for health benefits, retirement, or payroll taxes and Social Security.
The hourly rate she is being paid is roughly the hourly cost a “fully loaded” finance directed hired permanently would be paid when pay, benefits and other compensation areadded together.
The council is meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. in a Zoom meeting due to the pandemic. It can be viewed on Comcast Channel 97 or via livestreaming on the city’s website.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org