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Manteca looks for ways to cut ongoing park maintenance
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Saving money isn’t just a short-range strategy for the City of Manteca.

The City Council on Tuesday is being asked to authorize $7,000 out-of-park fees paid by growth to modify the design and improvements for the Union Ranch Park in the new neighborhood under construction directly east of Del Webb at Woodbridge. It will also cover a slight redesign of a linear park in the neighborhood as well.

The goal is to reduce the upfront cost of improvements and to reduce long-range maintenance. Assistant City Manager Karen McLaughlin, who is overseeing parks and recreation as well in a cost-saving move instituted over a year ago, said the strategy is to reduce man hours needed to do basic maintenance such as mowing and edging. Design modifications are expected to enable workers to do almost all ongoing maintenance with a riding lawn mower and significantly reduce any manual work.

When the park is completed the maintenance will be paid for by the homeowners within Union Ranch through the landscape maintenance district.

City Manager Steve Pinkerton has repeatedly said the city has an obligation to reduce the cost of government even in areas such as enterprise funds where fees cover the costs or landscape maintenance districts where property owners are on the hook for the expenditures.

During a budget workshop last year, Pinkerton said cities need to rethink how they do everything adding that he doubts funding - or spending - will ever return to the way it once was.

Manteca is dealing with what could be a $4 million budget shortfall in the fiscal year starting July 1 if revenue trends continue and spending isn’t cut back.