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No more budget blues
Manteca adopts structurally balanced budget
Mantecas budget includes more than $2 million for ramp and intersection improvements at the Austin Road interchange. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum is a happy camper these days.

And it’s all because of the city budget.

It’s not just because the budget was adopted 15 days ahead of the deadline for the earliest passage in at least 25 years.

Nor is it simply due to the budget including the first significant pay raises for municipal employees in six years, new positions including two additional fire fighters plus more police personnel, and even little things the city has had to forgo due to the fading recession such as an ice machine for the Manteca Senior Center.

It isn’t due entirely to the fact money is being set aside for bigger reserves for rainy days or that cash is once again being squirreled away for long-term maintenance and vehicle replacement.

And it is more than the fact there is $47.9 million for capital improvements such as new roads, improved wastewater system components, and park improvements without an increase in taxes or fees.

That smile has more to do with the fact DeBrum is the first mayor in at least 14 years who can say he presided when the council adopted a structurally balanced budget.

That means Manteca is taking in more money than it is spending in the 12-month period from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016 and doesn’t need to tap into reserves or other city sources such as bonus bucks that they siphoned $11.9 million from over the past 12 years to balance the budget.

“It’s the first time we’ve had a structurally balanced budget since I’ve been on the council,” DeBrum said moments before the council Tuesday night unanimously adopted the $33 million general fund spending plan and an overall $143.7 million budget once all operations such as water, sewer, garbage, the golf course, and growth fee accounts are considered.

Manteca has always had a balanced budget in modern times including 1985 when the city was left with less than $2,000 in reserves. It was when they couldn’t open the Louise Avenue fire station they had just built as they couldn’t afford to staff it.  “New” police cars consisted of obtaining used CHP units with 90,000 miles on them.

City budgets have always been balanced even when they spend more money in given year than they collected. That’s because the city dipped into reserves to balance the books.

DeBrum, however, isn’t 100 percent happy with the city’s finances.

Earlier this month he expressed concern the city was “leaving money on the table” because they haven’t put in place new public facilities fees along with park fees to charge growth for needed amenities. He brought that subject up against Tuesday stressing the importance of getting the necessary studies in place that are needed to justify fee increases. DeBrum noted with the building of each new home the city is being shortchanged in terms of the amount of money that is needed to provide for facilities that growth increases a bigger demand for such as community parks, and major road projects including interchanges along the 120 Bypass.

Manteca’s failure to adjust the fire fee charged for new homes throughout the 1990s meant that when the Union Road fire station was built last decade they had only half of the money collected that was needed to build it. The balance was paid for with bonus bucks collected for sewer allocation certainty.