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Manteca needs contract workers to cover upswings
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
City Manager Steve Pinkerton, mayor, and council, why must Manteca’s city employees once again take up the burden of a mismanaged budget.  Why is it that employees hired in good faith and with the expectation of long-term employment in a stable environment, are now asked a second time to take additional cuts in pay or reductions in employment hours, or worse yet, be laid-off or be forced to take a golden hand shake and enter the dismal unemployment ranks with no expectation of employment in the foreseeable future.  

The answer is simple - it is due to the long time operational culture at city hall of relying on a revenue stream that is tied to the cyclical development industry and the administrative budgeting of expenditures as though the economic balloon will never burst.  

While new development is good for the community and hiring more personnel to meet the burdened workload is a natural and expected response, it is not the correct response in a historically cyclical market.  After decades of the same scenario playing out many times with the same outcome, the correct action would have been to change the budget process at city hall.

The residents of this community and the city employees should not be forced to continue to accept the misgivings and misfortunes of a budgetary process that is as volatile as the revenue stream to which it is tied.  I have a suggestion for the city council to consider in the matters of personnel and budgeting.  Excluding safety personnel, determine the level of personnel needed to manage a moderate development market workload, not a low nor a peak market.  Once this number has been established, hire only contract employees to manage the peak market workload.  This method of personnel management provides the regular employees a level of stability and allows the city to response immediately and appropriately to a peak and a declining market without disrupting the lives of the residents and the regular employees.  Utilizing contract employees also provides the city with the budget flexibility to structure the contracts with or without time frames, employment benefits, work hours, work assignments, etc.

The city council must not continue to forge ahead on the crest of an unfettered economic wave and then turn about face disrupting lives when the economic balloon bursts, and place blame on the market for their administrative failings.  
Benjamin Cantu
Sept. 16, 2009