The Manteca Bulletin assesses why Manteca stayed solvent while Stockton went bust.
Manteca had a worse fiscal problem than Stockton’s (a general fund structural deficit of 35% of revenues, far worse than Stockton’s 25%).
But Manteca had:
“• An early admission the city was in trouble and could no longer do business as usual.
“• Transparency from the outset of the budget crisis that involved enlisting a 15-member citizens’ budget advisory committee comprised of people who weren’t all exactly happy with how the city had been operated.
“• Employee bargaining groups that early on read the writing on the wall and made concessions instead of refusing to compromise.
“• A redevelopment agency that was operated in a fiscally conservative manner and didn’t have a razor thin gap between debt payments and property tax revenue.
“• Municipal investments that were also conservative in nature.”
This isn’t the whole picture. Manteca’s City Council reportedly stood by its city manager when he made tough decisions. Public employees swarmed council meetings and tried to pressure the Council, but it stood firm.
Stockton slashed parks crews. Manteca’s parks workers redoubled their efforts, taking over the Landscape Maintenance District duties, too.
Community leaders created such a strong police volunteer program that crime actually went down, despite layoffs.
Much of this success can be attributed to Manteca’s then-City Manager, Steve Pinkerton. Pinkerton was Stockton’s redevelopment director for 14 years. He’s now city manager of Davis. Pinkerton once told me he left Stockton because he didn’t want to clean up the mess made by City Manager Mark Lewis. I doubt that’s the whole reason. Whatever the reason, it’s strange to think Stockton had a leader capable of righting its ship. But City Hall didn’t reward such people.