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Manteca council pondering fate of $89K contract for DC lobbyist
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Is spending $89,000 on a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., worth it?

The Manteca City Council will make that call Tuesday when they meet at 7 p.m. to decide the fate of a second-year contract with Van Scoyoc Associates to provide federal legislative advocacy services.

At the last council meeting, Mayor Willie Weatherford voiced his concern that it was futile to lobby for money given the current political climate in Washington, D.C., and that he’d rather spend $89,000 spent “on potholes than a consultant. “

Actually, the $89,000 couldn’t be used for potholes even if the council wanted to do so. The money to pay the contract is coming from enterprise accounts for sewer, water, and garbage service as well as economic development and can only be used for the purpose the money was collected. Virtually all of the projects the lobbying firm is pitching in the nation’s capitol on behalf of Manteca impact those accounts. If the city does land any federal funds such as for a new sewer trunk line to replace one that is aging, the ratepayers would benefit by having less costs to cover in the future that would trigger rate hikes.

Staff has indicated Van Scoyoc Associates in the past year “has provided valuable assistance” in helping the city prepare applications for federal funding for various municipal projects including public infrastructure and gang prevention activities. The projects are now under review in Washington, D.C.

While Van Scoyoc has yet to secure money for Manteca, research by the municipal staff shows they consistently return significantly more money than they are paid by other nearby jurisdictions.

As an example, Elk Grove has received $750,000 based on $240,000 paid to the lobbying firm, Stockton has received $4,334,500 on $240,000 paid, and Galt has received $3.6 million on $160,000 paid.

The San Joaquin County Council of Governments retains two lobbyists - one in Sacramento and one in Washington, D.C., - for $108,000 annually. San Joaquin County has two Washington, D.C. lobbyists on retainer for $135,000.