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Better fire protection, safer streets
MFD_GRASS_FIRE4 6-30-17.jpg
Manteca fire fighters put out a grass fire. - photo by Bulletin fie photos

Heralded by elected leaders as a budget with spending priorities “citizens have said they wanted,” the Manteca City Council Tuesday approved a $151.9 million budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.

It means southeast Manteca will have the city’s sixth staffed fire station by no later than 2020 and that the number of police officers on city streets will increase by seven — including three new positions  by Sept. 30. A fourth new police officer position will be filled by Jan. 1

It also means pavement and safety will be upgraded along the Main Street corridor from Yosemite Avenue to Atherton Drive as well as along Yosemite Avenue from Main Street to Cottage Avenue. That is in addition to work on neighborhood streets in Springtime Estates bordered by Highway 99, Louise Avenue and Main Street, in Mayors’ Park bounded by the railroad tracks, Louise Avenue, and Union Road, and other streets in north Manteca.

“(You) heard the people of Manteca,” Councilman Ricard Silverman told municipal staff, adding the council served as the conduit for what the community said were pressing needs.

The overall city budget including enterprise accounts where ratepayers cover costs such as for water, garbage service, and wastewater as well as capital improvement projects comes to $151.9 million. The general fund that covers day-to-day municipal services such as police, fire, parks, and street maintenance comes in at $40.1 million.

What makes the budget a bit different is how the city staff has positioned itself to carry out its marching orders.

As Silverman noted, less than 40 minutes later the council was able to authorize construction of the $4.5 million fire station at Woodward Avenue and Atherton Drive. The first step calls for the preparation and release of a request for qualification to design-build the station.

Fire Chief Kyle Shipherd noted with how winter will hit during the process the station likely won’t be ready until early 2020. That said they already have the staffing in place to open the station like the Lathrop Road station near Del Webb in 2013. With 37 frontline firefighters on board, the city will be able to initially have at least a two-man rescue quad stationed at Woodward and Atherton with the ability for a good percentage of the time to have a regular three-man fire engine

Given close to 90 percent of all calls are medical emergencies that will make a huge difference for more than 2,500 households in southeast Manteca that are outside of the optimum five-minute response time.

At the same time department heads have gotten the green light under City Manager Tom Ogden to be much more nimble in filling positions.

Police Chief Jodie Estarziau, as an example, was already looking to fill two new officer positions when she was working to fill four existing vacancies. The council directive given two weeks ago to jump the number of new officer positions from two to four was quickly adapted.

There are now eight potential new police hires completing background checks. The four vacant positions will be filled by July 15 and the two original new positions by Aug. 31. The third new position will be filled by Sept. 30 with the fourth new position filled by Jan. 1.

Human Resources Director Joe Kriskovich working with Estarziau have been able to start the elaborate and time consuming process to hire replacement police officers as soon as they become aware an officer is getting ready to retire.

It is a far cry from 11 years ago when then City Manager Bob Adams would get marching orders from the council in the form of the budget adoption to fill new positions throughout the city but then would tell department heads they couldn’t start recruiting to fill the authorized position until January — halfway through the budget year. That meant most new positions approved by councils weren’t hired until March. But since police officers take longer to screen due to the nature of their job, a new officer position typically wouldn’t be filled until the end of the fiscal year or 11 months after the council told staff to hire an additional officer.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Steve DeBrum noted the spending plan the council approved is the result of not only efforts to make the city more responsive to citizen needs but efforts the city has taken to secure additional tax revenue deals starting with the Spreckels Park rebirth and including Bass Pro Shops, Costco, and now Great Wolf.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email