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How Manteca pays for city services
MANTECA POLICE: $13.2 million from the general fund plus a portion of $6.1 million in half cent public sales tax being split between police and fire for personnel costs. - photo by GLENN KAHL

It’s a myth that never dies — property taxes pay for all city services you access.

For starters, cities such as Manteca get roughly 14 cents of every $1 a homeowner pays in property tax. The rest goes to schools, the county, Delta College, the state (through fund transfers Sacramento put in place) and special districts such as vector control.

So if your home is assessed at $250,000 your basic property tax bill is $2,500 a year. Of that 14 percent or $350 goes to Manteca.

Altogether between all property taxes — commercial ventures included — the city expects to collect $11.9 million in the fiscal year starting July 1. 

It takes $13.3 million a year in general fund money to help run the police department. And that doesn’t include the 15 positions covered by the half cent public safety sales tax or an endowment fund set up by developers using bonus bucks.

That means if property taxes were the only funding source to run the city, there would be no streets, no fire service, no park maintenance, or general government. The department instead of having 62 sworn officers would only have 39 officers.

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Property, sales tax barely pay for general fund public safety costs

It gets a little better when you add the city’s one cent share of the 8.5 cent sales tax you pay on items purchased within Manteca’s city limits. Sales tax will add another $8.8 million to the pot. Add in property tax and that’s $20.7 million. That’s enough to cover the cost of fire services and the police department — minus 17 officers funded from other dedicated fund sources. It would leave $800,000 to pay for everything else. The city projects they will collect $32,911,235 by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2016. The city anticipates spending $641,660 less than what they collect to operate general fund services that include police, fire, streets, the library, parks, recreation, and general government among others.

The overall municipal budget as proposed is $143,707,762 which includes the general fund spending budget of $33,044,575.

The rest of the budget includes enterprise accounts and restricted funds.

Solid waste collection, water, wastewater, and the golf course are enterprise funds. They are set up so that users — monthly charges the city collects for services delivered — cover all expenses. The only exception is the golf course enterprise account where the council in past years has transferred $155,000 from the general fund to that account to make up for free high school team play and reduce senior and youth green fees the city council adopted. A number of years ago when the golf course was running a deficit, “loans” were made to cover the shortfalls from the general fund.

Other restricted accounts range from growth fees collected for specific infrastructure to restricted revenue such as the half cent sales tax for public safety that can only be used to pay the salary and benefits of police and fire personnel. That tax will generate over $4.4 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

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You pay city taxes via Comcast, Verizon and PG&E bills

The overall budget also includes $47.9 million in capital improvement projects.

Property tax at $11.9 million is the biggest source of city revenue for the general fund

Sales tax is next at $8.8 million. It comes from the 8.5 cents you pay each time you purchase a taxable item in Manteca. The state collects 7 cents every time you spend a $1, the city 1 cent for its general fund, the city 1/2 cent for public safety, and the San Joaquin Council of Governments 1/2 cent for transportation that helps pay for roads, Altamont Corridor Service passenger trains, and bus service. Besides helping pay for local road maintenance and projects it is used to leverage state dollars for a wide variety of endeavors including the current Highway 99 and Interstate 5 corridor work as well as the pending Louise Avenue railroad crossing widening to four lanes between Airport Way and Union Road.

Franchise tax fees are the third largest source of revenue at $1.4 million. These are charges the city collects from PG&E to allow them to have the natural gas an electrical franchise, Verizon for phone service, and Comcast for cable. The cost is passed onto you through monthly bills you pay to service provides. Your Comcast bill, for example, delineates a franchise fee of $5.71 per month if your overall bill is $165.

The South San Joaquin Irrigation District has agreed to continue to pay the electrical service franchise fee if and when they take over that service from PG&E even though state law exempts government agencies providing power from paying such fees.

The fourth largest source of general fund revenue is the transit occupancy taxes or the 9 percent room tax hotel and motels slap on guest’s room bills. It is expected to generate $880,000 in the upcoming fiscal year. That’s up from $773,000 this year, $678,000 in 2013-14, and $593,832 in 2012-13.

The fifth largest source is business license fees.