Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
It has been several months since I wrote several articles concerning Manteca's budget and the inaction of our elected officials and the city manager. The lack of action to resolve the budget deficit continues.
•On June 13, 2008 I wrote "We could end up like Vallejo".
•On Jan. 16, 2009 I wrote "Citizens should not pay for bad decisions".
•I also wrote several more letters criticizing the lack of leadership by the mayor and city council because of their lack of action to address the budget gap.
•On Friday, I read in the Sun Post that the Manteca Budget Advisory Committee has recommended similar recommendations by reducing high earners salaries. Their recommendations are consistent to my recommendation and that of the same committee made earlier. The committee was established by the mayor and city council.
Therefore, the question is why the mayor doesn’t; city council and city manager implement those recommendations? The first answer is that the city manager salary will be reduced if recommendations are implemented. The second answer is that our elected leaders do not want to affect the special interest groups such as the police department and fire department personnel that should take a pay reduction. And lastly, they are more concerned by the impact of those that work for the city than its citizens.
However, city after city are making the hard decisions by recommending and making reductions to bring their budget in line with income. But this city manager want to continue this charade until August and that will result in deeper personnel cuts. It is a fact that some question public safety personnel - police and firefighters – will be laid off. Police officers do not prevent crime they respond after the crime has been committed.
Therefore, police will continue to provide the same level of response to reported crimes.
Moreover, other city managers have been able to maintain a viable budget during these economic times. The question is did Manteca hire the wrong person? Is the city manager capable of being part of the solution by violently taking a salary or is the city manager going to continue with this charade and compound the present budget crisis?
What the City leaders should do is to reconstruct police personnel and firefighter personnel retirement and health benefits at the same time freezing all raises, uniform allotments and overtime. But it is very important to make salaries reductions at the upper echelon of management.
Robert L. Fennell
July 24, 2009