Property tax receipts are rebounding for the second straight year in Manteca.
That means the municipal budget will have at least $205,850 more from property taxes to cover general fund expenditures. It marks the second straight year of property tax gains. While that is good news, City Manager Karen McLaughlin is borrowing a page from Gov. Jerry Brown’s playbook and advising the Manteca City Council that fiscal restraint is still essential.
The increased property tax projection is contained in the proposed 2013-14 fiscal year budget released Monday. The spending plan includes a 1 percent increase in the general fund to $27,971,465 from the current year’s $27,675,761 spending level. The general fund covers day-to-day municipal operations such as police, fire, parks, streets, and general government.
The overall budget including all funds such as water, sewer, garbage and various restricted accounts is being proposed as $94,184,677. That includes $12,824,247 for capital improvements.
While McLaughlin is happy that property tax is trending up to $9,351,00, the city still has a long way to go to return to its peak of $11,315,451 collected in 2007.
The dollar difference in property tax receipts between 2007 and what is projected for the upcoming fiscal year is $1,964,451. To put that in perspective, it is roughly the equivalent of the salaries and benefits needed to hire 18 police officers or firefighters.
During the same time frame, Manteca has grown by almost 6,000 residents to 71,164. That means the city is serving about 6,000 more residents (up about 10 percent from 65,000 in 2007). And they are doing so with 19 percent less funding that they had in 2007 when the general fund revenues were at $34,456,000.
The story of the two budgets — 2006-07 versus 2013-14 — is reflected in the per capita expenditures. The city spent $531 per capita in 2007 and is proposing to spend $393 per capita in 2014. The $138 difference represents almost a 26 percent decline in per capita spending.
McLaughlin in her budget message notes “the city had realigned goals, priorities, and service levels to match declines in our city’s revenue base. Through these actions and with the support of the council, the community, and our employees, the city has begun to maintain fiscal stability.”
The structured deficit has been whittled down to $145,720. That contrasts sharply with the $5.4 million projected back in January 2011 for the upcoming fiscal year if spending patterns weren’t changed.
McLaughlin still expressed concerns about municipal finances.
• Property taxes aren’t likely to rebound as fast as they declined.
• The government sector’s recovery will lag behind the private sector’s rebound.
McLaughlin — who has long espoused the realignment of municipal services done in cooperation with municipal employee groups that lost on average in excess of 20 percent of their coverall compensation as being “the new reality”— stressed the expectation is for a “measured recovery” for at least the next several years.