The days of Manteca landing big fish using redevelopment money are winding down.
In its place is a more modest — and as yet not completely defined — endeavor to fund projects designed to promote economic activity on a smaller scale.
The city’s $35.3 million general fund budget that goes into effect Friday for the 2016-2017 fiscal year includes two such projects.
u$25,000 to the Manteca Mural Society to pick up part of the $50,000 plus tab needed to complete the Vietnam War and World War I murals to join the three other veterans murals already completed on the Bedquarters budding at Yosemite Avenue and Main Street.
u$10,000 in support of day to day efforts of the Manteca Chamber of Commerce to stimulate commerce within the city.
The council in awarding the money tapped into $2.4 million set aside in a fund dubbed Assigned Economic Revitalization.
When the state disbanded the RDA and took the lion’s share of the tax revenue beyond the payment of existing bond obligations in order to balance the state budget, the property taxes that proportionately would have gone to local agencies such as the city general fund and the county were restored.
The City Council, decided that since they had lost the leverage the RDA provided to secure economic growth and to fight blight as it did for the shuttered Spreckels Sugar plant that is now Spreckels Park, they would take the city’s share of the shift of property taxes from the RDA and set it aside for economic development. Those taxes generate roughly $750,000 a year.
It was also noted at the time that the city hadn’t counted on those taxes in the past to support day-to-day municipal operations. Because of that, it was felt the set aside could be done with minimal impact on the general fund
City Manager Karen McLaughlin noted in her budget message that since there’s no policy in place as to how precisely the funds would be used that staff is reviewing options for such a policy to present to the City Council in the coming months to consider adopting.
In the past RDA funds have also been used for modest projects to stimulate small businesses investment in downtown and elsewhere. One way that was done was the facade improvement program where the RDA matched private sector investments up to $10,000 to improve building exteriors. The match was in the form of a loan that was forgiven if certain conditions were met over the years.
That is how the RDA helped support the Manteca Mural Society efforts in past years. The RDA primarily funded the cost of prepping walls for some of the murals that are already in place. The murals are considered a way of creating an image for downtown and certain visual enhancements that also help to draw people into Manteca’s central district.
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