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Lathrop’s sales tax rises to 9% April 1

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POSTED March 5, 2013 1:44 a.m.

LATHROP – Voters in Lathrop overwhelmingly approved a one-cent sales tax increase back in November.

And come next month they’re start paying it.

It will take Lathrop’s sales tax from 8 percent to 9 percent - the highest in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. Sales tax rates for nearby cities are Manteca and Tracy 8.5 percent; Stockton, 8.25 percent, Lodi, Ripon, and Escalon 8 percent; and Modesto 7.625 percent.

After months of waiting and jumping through all of the administrative hoops that come with expanding local taxes, local businesses will officially start collecting the one-percent on April 1 – the same day that Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal will appoint the city’s first oversight committee tasked with making sure the money is spent in accordance with what voters approved.

According to Acting Finance Director Cari James, the city isn’t likely to see any of that money until September.

That means that James and her staff will have to go through the budget process in June and July with estimates about the fund only – determining in December what is more realistic and adjusting the budget accordingly.

Plans are already in the works to determine which community projects are priorities and would be funded by Measure C.

“We’ve already started working on our budget and we’re gathering information right now,” James said. “We’re looking at how we would spend the money from Measure C so that we come back in June for the workshops and July for approval, the council will be able to approve the Measure C budget as well.”

Elected officials spent nearly a year and tens of thousands of dollars to determine whether Measure C was something that they wanted to place on the ballot, and voters responded – passing the measure with nearly 80 percent approval.

But the city will get just over half of the money that flows in every year – an amount that the consultant hired to gauge public interest and walk the city through the process believes will average out to $2 million.

In December the City Council agreed to give the Lathrop Manteca Fire District 40 percent of everything that comes in so that the cash-strapped entity – hit hard by the drop in housing prices and reassessment of property values – has some breathing room when it comes to providing crucial emergency services to the growing community.

Local firefighters took out advertisements and walked precincts supporting the measure.

Once collected the money will have to be accounted for and allocated by the California State Board of Equalization in Sacramento. According to James, a separate tab will be included in the budget – similar to the administrative and the police sections that are used to show how money is broken up – to signify how the money is allocated. The way that the Lathrop Manteca Fire District spends its portion of the money must also be transparent, even though its books are currently open as part of an agreement with the city that was struck over a loan.

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