Manteca is expected to end the current fiscal year with a general fund balance of $1.2 million.
That is a far cry from the worst-case scenario 14 months ago when city staff said the fund that pays to run day-to-day city services could have been $5.8 million in the hole if additional cuts weren’t made and the economy didn’t stabilize and start improving. The best outlook was for a $3.9 million deficit.
The revenue outlook has improved but more importantly employee groups stepped up and made additional compensation concessions worth $4.2 million through the end of the 2014-15 fiscal year.
When asked point blank by Councilman John Harris at Monday’s budget workshop whether the budget was balanced, City Manager Karen McLaughlin replied, “it is balanced in that any deficit is made up by in reserves.”
Her response is the most pointed of all city managers since the 1990s in stressing reserves are covering the shortfall. It isn’t that previous city managers mislead anyone - they didn’t - as their budget messages made it clear reserves were being tapped to offset expenses. One year it was as high as $8 million. But it is the first time that a verbal response to such an inquiry made it absolutely clear that the budget is being balanced with reserves.
The candor is the direct result of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Unless something goes amiss, salary and compensation concessions combined with capping retire health benefits and cutting expenses throughout the city means that starting next year Manteca will be able to start rebuilding reserves that they came dangerously close to depleting.
Manteca is on track to essentially spend no more each year than they take in to run the general fund as well as to put money aside.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t more challenges ahead. There is some $1.4 million worth of positions covered in the general fund in part by redevelopment agency money. The RDA money will go away June 30.
Nor is Manteca down to its last million dollars.
The city expects to have a combined fund balance of $115,230,724 on June 30.
The $27,074,746 general fund which is down 12.6 percent from spending levels in January 2011 is just part of the city budget. There is another $97,787,926 for enterprise operations such as sewer, water, garbage and golf plus other restricted endeavors. The $115 million represent carryovers in those accounts that are primarily reserves and set aside for sewer and water project s as well as fees leveled on growth for specific purposes as well as state and federal grants.
The money is either committed to projects to be spent over multiple years or the city hasn’t gathered enough money to move forward with a project.