Richard Silverman doesn’t think expenditure of public money can get any clearer than this: Spending $222,000 to assure that nearly 4,000 of his neighbors have a fighting chance to weather a medical emergency
It is why the City Council member is pushing to include $222,000 in the upcoming municipal budget for the fiscal year starting on July 1 to make sure shortfalls in staffing a 2-man rescue quad to serve southeast Manteca — the fastest growing area in the city — can be eliminated.
Silverman said when it comes to public safety the council needs to strike a delicate balance pressing community needs and making sure the city is on fine financial footing with general fund reserves of 25 percent.
“For me personally this is an expenditure that’s prudent,” Silverman said. ”I believe we can find the $320,000 to do both (including hiring not one but two community resource officers for Manteca Police to address hornless concerns).”
The councilman first brought up his concern to make sure as much as the city’s residents were within the targeted five-minute response time in a fire or medical emergency during the municipal budget workshop last month.
The city is looking at a $35.3 million spending plan for day-to-day municipal operations encompassed in the general fund for the fiscal year starting July 1. The budget has more than $17 million in general fund reserves. That includes $8.67 million in unrestricted reserves that’s equivalent to 25 percent of the day-to-day operating budget. Simply reducing the reserve by $321,320 — $222,000 for firefighters and $99,320 for the second community resource officer — would leave $8.45 million in unrestricted reserves.
Silverman said in talking with staff updated revenue projections and other budget modifications might be able to cover the additional costs council members have pressed for to enhance public safety beyond staff recommendations and not have to reduce any other planned expenditures.
Currently 1,250 existing homes — most of which are outside of the department’s targeted 5 minute emergency response time. Another 1,430 homes that are being fast-tracked by developers will also be outside the 5 minute response time within 3 years.
Arriving on scene within five minutes of a call being dispatched is essential for the best possible survival rate for heart and stroke victims as well as to attack fires before they flashover.
Citywide, Manteca fire engines are now arriving at emergency calls within five minutes 82 percent of the time. But when it comes to the 1,250 homes south of Woodward Avenue and east of Main Street, fire crews arrive on scene within five minutes less than 10 percent of the time.
The $222,000 would allow the department to maintain minimum staffing of 14 firefighters — three each at the four fire stations and two assigned to the rescue squad.
The rescue squad would be assigned to either the Union Raid station or the Powers Avenue station initially on a rotating basis to see which location offers the quickest response time to southeast Manteca.
In addition the rescue squad will be assigned any department work in the area such as fire awareness at Woodward School, hydrant maintenance and weed abatement to keep the unit in the target coverage area.
The 24/7 staffing of a two-man rescue squad is an effective way to chip away at response times since roughly 90 percent of all calls handled by Manteca Fire in a typical year are medical emergencies.
It is the same strategy the city used to open the Lathrop Road station by Del Webb at Woodbridge. Last year the city was able to fund the nine firefighters needed o staff a three-man engine 24/7.
The City Council in February approved spending $149,195 to have RPM Design Group provide 30 percent of the design work needed for a new station at Atherton Drive and Woodward Avenue in southeast Manteca.
The city already owns the land at Atherton Drive and Woodward Avenue as it was given to Manteca by Atherton Homes nearly 15 years ago.
The new station will cost $2.6 million and would be a scaled down version of the Lathrop Road station. It will be designed to blend in with residential housing and will have low-water use landscaping.