Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
Here we go again, or not, time will tell. After decades of financial accounting at city hall that managed to give us a starvation budget each year and has resulted in reduced public services, poor infrastructure maintenance, and a lack of community amenities, it would appear that the Council has hired a new city manager that believes in “contracting out services (because) it saves a significant amount of money.” In other words, it would appear that cutting service levels will continue; and when we have a problem with such service standards, we will be directed to a contractor located elsewhere. If this happens the Council will have reached a new level of brushing off their responsibilities and the blame to others.
The truth is that historically in Manteca, city managers have been more concerned with their jobs than guiding the Councils to do theirs. And, since Councils are a makeup of lay people with little or no practical experience or knowledge of overall community needs and services, they tend to simply follow the practices of the previous administration.
The problem: A reducing trend of funds to provide a proper and timely respond to community needs, infrastructure maintenance, and lacking community amenities. If we look at the problem over a period of decades it is clear that necessary revenues to meet desired service levels has gradually diminished while costs have gradually increased. And to make matters worse, those at city hall approached and perpetuated the declining revenue by reducing service levels rather than proceeding with the obvious (but politically tough) solution — increase revenue resources to meet service expectations. Consequently as the potholes got larger overtime, the problem became the norm and management’s mindset.
The solution: Approach a new budget process with a mindset of achieving required service levels, providing timely infrastructure maintenance, and delivering lacking community amenities. This will mean adjusting and expanding revenue resources, renegotiating the city/county property tax split, adjusting new development fees to offset impacts and service needs, adjusting development standards to reduce public service impacts, make proactive marketing and tangible efforts towards jobs generation, move away from relying on developers to determine our destiny and community growth, etc.
Finally, Administration, especially, and Council need to move away from negotiating with the development community Manteca’s public services levels, development standards, and quality of life standards. Once again, the measure for Administration and the Council’s jobs is doing the work, not keeping the job.