What will come first – a new police station, a new city hall, or an expanded corporation yard?
The Manteca City Council could give staff direction Tuesday night during a presentation updating the government facility fee fund. The council meets at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
Moving forward on any of the $109.1 million worth of projects that also included a performing arts center, a new animal shelter and library among others had been stalled for the past several years due to lawsuits filed by developers who contended Manteca could not increase the fee for government facilities beyond the $350 it established it at in 1986. The developers who sued claimed it was a new fee.
The courts just recently disagreed saying Manteca was completely within its authority to increase such fees that are put in place by nexus studies.
Public Works Director Mark Houghton indicated staff will provide an update on the funds and the projects that could be completed with it.
Options discussed in the past for the police station included moving forward with converting the 55,000-square-foot former Qualex film processing building the city purchased on Industrial Park Drive or building a new complex from scratch.
City hall options included a stop-gap move to expand into the existing police station offices should the police headquarters relocate, build a new complex on the Civic Center site or – as Councilman Vince Hernandez suggested – explore possibly acquiring one of four multi-story buildings planned by AKF Development for the Yosemite Square projects on the northeast corner of the Highway 120 Bypass and Highway 99,
The city has corporation yard uses spread throughout the city. The plan is to combine them into one location on Wetmore Street to improve efficiency. Manteca has an ace in the hole, so to speak, with the site as the redevelopment agency owns an adjoining parcel in the Manteca Industrial Park.
The Third Appellate Court sided with the city and overturned a San Joaquin Superior Court decision that initially blocked the city’s ability to raise the fee from $350 to $4,702 per home to help growth pay for everything from a new city hall to a library and performing arts center.
The court essentially ruled that if the city was increasing an existing fee based on a nexus study it did not represent a new fee. Morrison Homes argued that it was a new fee and therefore they couldn’t charge more because the builder had a signed development agreement with the city.
Since the fee was just referenced and not a specific amount tied to it, the court said whatever fee the city could justify and adopt was the fee.
The lawsuits started when home builders contended Manteca hadn’t proven its case that as the community grows the city needs a larger police headquarters.
Nor did builders believe the need for a new library, more city office space, an expanded corporation yard, a new animal control shelter or a performing arts center had been justified as required by state law with an accurate nexus.
City officials countered that they have conducted studies and public meetings over the course of several years that the facilities costing $109.1 million are needed and growth’s share of that tab - ultimately $4,702 a home - was justified.
The money collected in government facilities fees are restricted by law to be used only for that purpose. They cannot be used to help balance the general fund.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail email@example.com