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cent sales tax preventing loss of four officers
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Shoppers paying Manteca’s extra half cent sales tax are helping insure that Manteca’s Police force won’t be trimmed by four officers in mid-2012.

The four officers were retained almost three years ago thanks to federal stimulus funding that runs out June 30, 2012.

That means when July of 2012 rolls around Measure M will support the salaries and benefits of 15 Manteca Police officers or 27 percent of the force.

The shift is expected to increase Measure M expenditures by $500,000 annually to accelerate depletion of the original reserve of $4.3 million built up by June 30, 2010 some 42 months after the voters first authorized the half cent public safety tax.

Currently 11 of Manteca’s 55 sworn police officers and 12 firefighters have their salaries and benefits covered by the half cent sales tax.

Police Chief Dave Bricker - who has referred to Measure M as a “godsend” - indicated Manteca could restore two more police officer positions next year if additional federal money is put into the public safety stimulus program. Manteca’s application for the latest round of funding announced last month was approved but funding ran out before Manteca came up on the priority list.

Bricker said the federal agency processing the request agreed that Manteca had one of the lowest levels of police officer manpower per 1,000 residents in California but indicated the need wasn’t that great due to the declining crime rate.

“They are basically penalizing us for being efficient at reducing crime,” Bricker said.

The sales tax has been generating roughly $3.7 million annually for the last three years. For the current fiscal year the city projected a drop of $130,000 which may not occur given the stronger than expected fourth quarter retail sales.

That said the city is anticipating relatively small increases in the coming years through 2015-16 when annual Measure M revenue is projected to reach $4.8 million.

That means the ending balance in the account that was $4,326,501 as of June 30, 2010 could dwindle down to $872,225 by June 30, 2016.

That is considered the most likely scenario.  If the economy takes a severe turn south that ending balance could drop to $47,689 by June 30, 2015 an then be in the hole $933,478 the next year which would mean eight officer and firefighter positions would be impacted.

On the flip side, if the economy rebounds a bit stronger than the most likely scenario the city’s ending balance for Measure M could be at $2,275,310 by June 30, 2016.