Approximately 80 percent of the additional sales tax that Lathrop residents pay goes to cover police and fire service.
That was the takeaway from an impromptu discussion last week about Measure C — the one-cent sales tax increase that voters approved in 2012 as a general tax that can be used anywhere the city feels best meets the needs of residents, as long as it is used in accordance with the spirit of the measure itself.
With a written agreement between the city and the Lathrop Manteca Fire District that allocated 40 percent of everything that the tax generates — an agreement that was signed to help the district cover basic personnel expenses at a time when it facing dire financial straits — being the only required distribution of the funds, the additional 40 percent that is currently being used to fund police positions that were eliminated during the economic downturn is dispersed at the discretion of the Lathrop City Council.
The discussion about Measure C wasn’t even on the Lathrop City Council agenda but became something that the council addressed after resident Craig Weis began inquiring as to whether the positions that are funded by Measure C could be paid for now that the city is in a much better financial position than it was when brought before voters.
According to Lathrop City Manager Steve Salvatore, the decision to put approximately 40 percent of the revenue towards funding police positions was made by the council as a way to fill positions that were slashed during the deep cuts came during the recession — cuts that were necessary to clear an estimated $16 million budget shortfall. The cuts extended all the way to City Hall, which not only cut positions but also furloughed one day a week to save money.
But with an estimated budget this year of more than $3.4 million — a nearly 75 percent increase over what the city initially believed that Measure C would generate in its first full year of implementation — many of those law enforcement positions have been added back.
The remaining 20 percent, Salvatore said, goes towards paying for the non-emergency essential city services and projects that the oversight committee approves — like resurfacing the city’s most heavily-used playgrounds, and installing traffic lights at certain intersections. Those projects, Salvatore said, are typically covered by one-time monies that are generated by large projects — like the new Tesla building — rather than setting that money aside for ongoing expenses like salaries and personnel.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.