Editor's note This is a part of a series of stories on how mayor and council hopefuls would address various municipal issues
Debby Moorhead is convinced that without Manteca’s redevelopment agency the city’s economy would be much weaker than it is today with thousands of less jobs and significantly less sales and property tax to support municipal services such as police, fire and parks.
“I believe in it (Manteca Redevelopment Agency) over 100 percent,” Moorhead said. “We need RDA.”
Moorhead is one of four candidates seeking election Nov. 2 to serve the next four years as Manteca’s mayor. The council member is running against incumbent Willie Weatherford, former mayor Carlon Perry, and retired municipal senior planner Ben Cantu.
“Without RDA we’d be stagnant,” Moorhead said.
She rattled off a long list of positive impacts RDA has on the economy in playing a critical role in helping everything from Spreckels Park to the Stadium, Retail Center get off the ground. She also pointed to how RDA has assisted with small business loans for established local businesses for expansion or remodeling ranging from a veterinarian hospital to a trucking firm. That is in addition to facade improvements, sidewalks, affordable housing projects, and 54 housing rehab loans to senior citizens totaling $230,000 since 2007 for everything from new roofs to health and safety repairs.
Moorhead said people don’t realize how critical that the RDA has been to allowing Manteca to snag thousands of jobs plus retail.
The $8 million RDA loan to AKF Development, for example, allowed them to put infrastructure in place that they couldn’t get money to do in advance. Once streets, sewer and water lines were in place, they were able to market land to private sector firms. The end result was the loss of 200 full-time and part-time jobs when Spreckels Sugar closed were replaced with businesses that employ more than 2,000 people.
The loan was repaid with interest three years ahead of schedule.
Moorhead said the city needs to do a better job of communicating the effectiveness of RDA which keeps more money local without increasing property taxes.
“Sometimes I find myself using the (government) jargon,” she said.
Moorhead recalled talking to a group of people when she mentioned RDA and they had a quizzical look on their faces.
She said once you explain how it works and what RDA has done, she said most people support it.
Although she is an adamant supporter of RDA and praises the economic development it has encouraged plus the affordable housing it has created, Moorhead said RDA can be used even more effectively in helping pump new life into older areas of Manteca.
At the same time she contends now when the economy is weak is the time that Manteca should double down on its economic development efforts.
“We should still go to the ISCC (International Shopping Center Conference) and pitch Manteca to those retailers looking to expand,” Moorhead said. “We’ve got to sell people on what we have and (tell our story).”
Manteca typically gets only 10 cents of every dollar in property tax collected on property not included in an RDA project area and 80 cents on the dollar from those that are within the boundaries of an RDA area. That 80 cents includes both RDA tax increment and general fund revenue.
Manteca, depending upon when various homes and other improvements were made, only gets between 6 and 11 percent of every property tax dollar that is collected in a non-RDA area.
Manteca by putting areas into an RDA project area where justified captures property tax increments. It does so without increasing property taxes.