By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lathrop: Good news & bad in property taxes
Placeholder Image
LATHROP – What a difference a decade makes in Lathrop’s property-tax landscape.

According to a list of top 20 property tax payers in Lathrop from the San Joaquin County Assessor’s Office, only three of the top 10 companies in 1998 are on the list for 2008.

Below are some highlights from this report:

LOF Glass, Inc. or the former Libbey-Owens-Ford Company which is now Pilkington Glass, led the pack 10 years ago with $79,650,585 in taxable assessed value. Ten years later, that number plummeted to $24,933,073 or down to No. 8 in 2008.

Retaining their position in the top five bracket and showing their resilience in the increasingly volatile market are food distributor Super Store Industries and J.R. Simplot, an agribusiness firm that, according to the company’s web site, produces frozen potatoes, vegetables, fertilizers, seeds, agricultural services, and beef cattle. SSI surged to the top of the pack in 2008 with a taxable assessed value of $55,523,105. Simplot dropped from second place in 1998 to third in 2008 when its taxable assessed value was $34,368,462 which shows only a slight drop from the total 10 years ago of $34,512,726.

Two companies that were in the Top 10 in 1998 did not even make it to the Top 20 list in 2008. Crossroads Ventures Ptp which ranked No. 5 in 1998 with total taxable assessed value of $21,860,773 shows zero for 2008. Similarly, CNC Containers which specializes in durable goods posted no taxable assessed value in 2008 compared to its 1998 figures of $7,614,816.

While the disappearance of the other seven companies from the magic Top 10 is bad news, there is also a golden lining in that those missing were replaced by new companies that have since moved their operations and facilities to Lathrop.

These companies that came into Lathrop’s economic radar after 1998 and made it to the Top 10 tax contributors to city coffers, along with their taxable assessed values and their rankings, are the following:

• No. 2 – Home Depot ($49,620,000)

• No. 4 – Fuel Total Systems or FTX ($29,617,991)

• No. 5 – Lathrop Industrial Development II LLC ($28,829,134)

• No. 6 – JC Penney ($26,036,280)

• No. 7 – DC Lease Management ($24,696,000)

• No. 9 – LBA Realty Fund II CO III LLC (24,031,200)

• No. 10 – Transpacific Development ($24,017,541)

All together, these 10 new companies infused a total of $274,792,354 in taxable assessed values which translates to added monies for city coffers.

While that could be seen as a silver lining for Lathrop,  that bit of good news is tempered by the doom and gloom that has befallen the city in the deepening widespread housing-market crisis and global economic downturn. Lathrop is in the epicenter of this national mortgage crisis, as evidenced by the number of foreclosures that has hit the city in the last couple of years. As a result, Lathrop and other cities hard-hit by the mortgage meltdown in San Joaquin County, have been warned by county officials to brace for lean times ahead because property tax revenues will be less than what was projected last year.

As Interim City Manager Cary Keaten told the Manteca Bulletin two weeks ago, referring to the upcoming revenue drought, “This year, we are expecting less property tax revenues so it’s likely that the deficit we experienced last year would be bigger because we have less revenues this year.”

But while surrounding cities and just about every level of government agency, from local cities and school districts to the state and federal agencies, have come out with budget-deficit projections, Lathrop officials still did not have any figures available as of Wednesday.

“We have no information at this time,” was the response from City Hall to questions about the amount of anticipated deficits and any plans to balance the budget in the face of dwindling city coffers. The same response was given to inquiries about possible staff layoffs. The city currently has 80 full-time and 14 part-time employees.

Council member Robert Oliver said he got the same response at City Hall to similar questions about the budget.

“I’m getting the same no-answers. I’ve been asking Cary (Keaten), ‘would you and the finance department feel insulted if I begin asking for an independent audit?’ I need to know what’s going on,” Oliver said.

He said the interim city manager explained to him and to all members of the council in an e-mail that steps have been started “internally” with all department heads being asked to “seriously reduce expenditures.”

City Clerk Rick Caldeira, who took over the position of public information officer after the council did not extend Mike Esau’s contract due to budget cuts, said that the status quo has not changed since his last interview with the Bulletin. At that time, Keaten said that three things are under way which are being done prior to submitting a state-of-city-finances report to the council. He said a management committee is looking at different cost-reduction options, for one thing, and the city is trying to negotiate with the union, SEIU (Service Employees International Union) to discuss employee salaries. Also, he said the finance office has been working for months looking into various ways of dealing with the anticipated budget deficit.

Still, Oliver said he is very concerned about not knowing what’s going on.

“I can’t understand why we’re not in a panic mode like everybody else. We’ve been primarily a fee-based city, and our tax base is going down. With all the foreclosed homes, I doubt everybody is paying fees and taxes on them. I want to know what provisions we’re making,” Oliver said.