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Manteca to state: We will sue
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The latest state move to raid money from cities could leave Manteca riddled with pot holes and deteriorating pavement as well as virtually no money left to maintain a streets maintenance crew that handles everything from flooded streets and buckled sidewalks to rough asphalt.

The hijacking of the local share of gasoline tax - $1.8 million over the next two years alone – is being eyed to fund future and past state highway bond debt service. That would allow the California Legislature to shift its portion of the gas tax to avoid wiping out a $24 billion deficit using just cuts. The proposal drew a swift response from Manteca leaders Tuesday night.

They voted unanimously to authorize City Attorney John Brinton to cooperate with the League of California Cities that is gearing up to bring a lawsuit to block the move if and when the proposal is adopted by the legislature.

Public Works Director Mark Houghton noted that losing the gas tax would essentially mean there would be no street maintenance for all practical purposes. It would also eliminate all road overlay projects currently budgeted. The gas tax revenues are used to support streets operations including 100 percent of street personnel.

Manteca’s street division is at the same staffing level that it was at in 1981 – which is nine workers - despite having 193 miles of streets today or almost double the level 28 years ago.

There are 15 positions authorized in the budget but the city has been leaving them vacant as people retired due to the state continuing to “borrow” state gas money meant for local street upkeep.

It underscores a trend that has been in place since the early 1990s of the state eroding local revenue sources because Sacramento can’t live within a budget. Since 1991, the state has taken upwards of $18 million from the city’s general fund and redevelopment agency.

Legal counsel obtained by the League of California Cities points out that the state constitution calls for the local gas tax only to be used for the maintenance and repair of local streets and not for covering other expenses such as the state’s deficit.

Councilman Vince Hernandez noted if the state succeeds Manteca and other cities will end up having streets full of potholes and streets in disrepair.