City renews K Street contract after legislative wins

A California municipality that scored legislative victories and grant money in Washington has voted to renew its contract with a top federal lobbying firm.

The Manteca, Calif., city council agreed last week to continue its contract with Van Scoyoc Associates, one of Washington’s top lobby shops. That was a reversal from a meeting just last month, when the council opposed the renewal of the agreement, which is worth $76,000 per year.

In its July 2 meeting, the local body voted 3-1 to continue using Van Scoyoc’s services after the firm agreed to lower its retainer to $60,000 per year, plus putting a $5,000 cap on “reimbursable expenses,” according to local press reports.

In a letter sent to the council May, Van Scoyoc Vice President Thane Young laid out what he said were the firm’s accomplishments on behalf of the city.

“Last summer, legislation was approved that included a significant victory for the City of Manteca as part of the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP),” he wrote. “In arguably our most significant accomplishment on behalf of the city, we were able to remove language from the final NFIP legislation that would have resulted in the entire city being mapped into a floodplain subject to permanent flood insurance and building restrictions.”

The flood insurance requirement can be costly for cities and residents, which have to comply with the mandate and construct elevated foundations for buildings and homes. The price tag would eventually reach more than $4,000 per resident, per year, Young said.

Van Scoyoc spent “hundreds of collective hours on this issue over the summer, working closely with a number of senators to ensure the removal of the language,” Young wrote.

The firm also scored hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants for the city, according to Young, including $150,000 for breathing equipment for a local fire department.

Young also said the city of Manteca has reason to remain hired up in Washington.

Later this year, Young warned, the Environmental Protection Agency would be rolling out Clean Water Act regulations, which have been a concern for the city and businesses in the area.

He also boasted of the firm’s talks with Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), the chairmen of the House Railroads Subcommittee, about high-speed rail in the Central San Joaquin Valley — a highly desired project for officials there and in the state. Young said Van Scoyoc is also working on environmental issues, immigration, tax reform and bringing in additional budget appropriations for the city.

Van Scoyoc Associates, which earned $22.5 million in lobbying revenue last year, confirmed the new terms. The contract will last until June 30, 2014, according to agreement documents, with the option to extend the contract another year — provided the city has resources to pay for it.

The firm represents several other municipalities, including Clearwater, Fla., Baltimore, Md., Portsmouth, Va., Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. and a Bay Area transit authority. Its other clients include several universities, aluminum manufacturing giant Alcoa and Anheuser-Busch Companies.