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More retail, job centers are key
Manteca working to pump up general fund
Public safety such as fire protection is heavily dependent on general fund revenue. - photo by Bulletin file photo

Continued retail growth as well as more business parks and possibly office towers could end up being the long-term solution to Manteca’s general fund woes.

A comparison of 12 cities compiled by the city’s finance department puts Manteca’s general fund per capita dead last at $403. Coming in second from last is Tracy at $414 per capita. Manteca has 67,764 residents and Tracy 81,714.

Both cities have had big spurts of growth – mostly housing – with some business park and retail development. Still, they don’t have the major retail base yet. The per capital general fund numbers are more reflective of traditional valley towns (Merced, 80,542 residents, $421 per capita; Madera, 57,318 residents, $475 per capita) and eastern Bay Area suburbs that have a jobs housing imbalance just like Tracy and Manteca (Pittsburg, 63,771 residents, $472 per capita; Antioch, 100,957residents, $455 per capita).

The general fund is crucial to a city as it funds basic services such as police, fire, streets, parks, and such. The primary source of general fund revenue is sales tax and property tax. Cities with a bigger retail presence that serves a larger market than within the immediate vicinity such as Roseville fare much better. Roseville is home to The Galleria – the largest shopping mall in Northern California. The general fund per capita is $1,051 for each of that city’s 112,343 residents. Roseville also has a number of office towers that are three to five stories.

Manteca is trying to use Bass Pro Shops coupled with the upscale lifestyle outlet stores to get a similar bounce for Manteca by taking consumer dollars from a much larger area and collecting sales tax on them. The first outlet stores are targeted to open this spring.

Manteca leaders are also trying to secure additional business parks and possible office operations where the buildings benefit the property tax rolls much greater with a significantly lower impact on services. A city that has such a successful strategy in place is Livermore with $1,002 per capita for its 104,297 residents.

Manteca is moving forward with two major business parks – Austin Road Business Park and Centerpoint.

A city that has combined regional retail with outlet stores and a strong business park base is Folsom. That city’s has a general fund that draws $974 per capita with 104,297 residents.

Manteca’s immediate concern is a $3 million deficit projected for the general fund in the fiscal year starting July 1. City officials believe one-time cost savings moves, deferring some maintenance, cost recovery charges, and a slight increase in revenue may get Manteca by next fiscal year unless the state takes money again.

At the same time, Manteca is working on long-term strategies that were actually implemented in the past decade. It is those strategies encompassing housing and business park growth that are allowing housing and sales tax statistics in Manteca to outperform other communities in the Northern San Joaquin valley for the past year.