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Saving money by design
Goal is to reduce future Manteca city expenses
A City of Manteca parks worker edges the grass recently at Baccillieri Park. - photo by HIME ROMERO
It’s a daunting task.

The City of Manteca needs to squeeze out another $4.5 million in expenses in the coming months after trimming almost $15 million in expenses over the course of two years.

“Staff has looked at everything and all of the easy things have been done,” noted City Manager Steve Pinkerton said.

But while the push is on to trim $4.5 million so revenues can match expenses in the municipal fiscal year starting July 1, that is only part of the challenge.

The other part is reducing future costs that the city incurs.

Much of those savings will come in how future growth in the city is designed and how costs will be covered.

A prime example of how Manteca is working toward a lower-cost future can be found in city parks.

The developers of Union Ranch East are ready to start work on an eight-acre park. A shift in city policy already means future homeowners in Union Ranch will pay for both the ongoing maintenance of the park and the accompanying storm water basin pump in addition to common landscaping in the development. In newer projects being approved, the city is also requiring that the landscape maintenance district formed for subdivisions also include paying for street light maintenance and electricity.

Simply securing another source of income - in this case specific subdivision homeowners to pay for neighborhood park maintenance and lighting - isn’t good enough for the city.

They want to find ways to further reduce costs.

In the case of Union Ranch Park that means going back and looking at ways to reduce the manpower needed to maintain it.

“It’s a beautiful park design,” Pinkerton said. “But we believe we can find ways to modify the design to make it easier to mow and do less edging to reduce the manpower costs of maintaining it.”

Such a move essentially reduces the cost those in the LMD will pay.

It is the same philosophy behind reducing enterprise fund expenses - sewer, water and garbage - when all of those accounts weren’t under financial distress - at the same time the general fund costs were reduced.

Pinkerton said the city has a moral obligation to keep costs down especially when people are struggling.

It is one of the reasons behind traffic roundabouts. Not only does it slash upfront costs that can run as high as $500,000 per traffic signal but it reduces ongoing maintenance costs. Roundabouts, when used properly, reduce speed and improve traffic flow.

Among other design elements the city is exploring to reduce future costs are slightly narrower residential streets.

“It (the savings) can add up,” Pinkerton said.

Manteca currently has 197 linear miles of streets it must maintain.