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Manteca delays $27M budget so lone citizen can look over it some more
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Manteca’s elected leaders put approval of the spending plan to provide municipal services for 69,000 residents over the next 50 weeks on hold Tuesday.

It was all so one citizen could have more time to look over the $27 million budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Manteca resident Bruce Lownsbery made the request during the public hearing for the budget during the City Council meeting.

Lownsbery said he hadn’t had much time to look at the budget document that has been circulating for close to a month because he had been engaging the city over the Union Road landscape maintenance district. Lownsbery was in attendance at the budget workshop the council conducted on June 28.

The delay in considering the budget for adoption was approved by a unanimous vote after Councilman Steve DeBrum said he wanted to accommodate Lownsbery’s request if possible.

Mayor Willie Weatherford, though, first queried City Manager Karen McLaughlin to make sure that delaying the budget adoption wouldn’t throw a monkey wrench into city operations.

McLaughlin noted the council had already adopted a continuing resolution prior to July 1. That means the city is operating on last year’s budget for the fiscal year that ended June 30 until a new spending plan is adopted. Manteca went more than 10 months last fiscal year operating on a continuing resolution before adopting a budget. The delay was due to employee negotiations and the state’s decision to seize redevelopment agency funds.

The city manager indicated that the council had already authorized spending money for four new police officers so the department could form a gang unit by July 5.

Delaying the budget approval for three weeks until the council meets again on Aug. 7 means new capital improvement projects can’t get underway. One critical hire in the budget to help a number of road-related projects to move forward - the hiring of a traffic specialist for the Public Works Department - will be delayed. Instead of having that person on board in September to start working on road projects the earliest an employee can be in place is October.

It is the first time in at least 25 years - if not ever - that a council delayed a municipal budget adoption so a citizen could have additional time to examine the document.