Franco Torrice knows firsthand what voter approval of the half cent safety tax in 2006 did for the ability of Manteca fire and police departments to effectively protect and serve the city.
“Measure M did exactly what the voters were promised it would do,” Torrice said.
That promise was to beef up the city’s frontline first responders and essentially nothing else. The half-cent sales tax pays for 17 of the current 76 police officer positions and 15 firefighters. Without the public safety tax Manteca would have only 59 police officers and lack the staffing to keep at least one fire station open and would be forced to rotating shutdowns at the remaining four stations
Torrice is not just a Manteca resident but also serves as a Manteca Fire captain. He is spending his time off promoting Measure Z, the one cent sales tax, on the Nov. 3 ballot.
And while a portion of the $12 million the additional sales tax is expected to go toward public safety needs, Torrice expects to see some of it go toward recreational amenities in addition to shoring up funding so other services such as street maintenance don’t slip further.
“I support Measure Z because I want to see recreational facilities for my children and other kids in Manteca,” Torrice said.
Torrice is part of a citizens committee supporting Measure Z that includes Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu.
Cantu said Measure Z, if it passes, could in part leverage bonds such as the $80 million worth of recreation amenities that citizens identified they would like to see in Manteca. That includes an aquatics center, additional sports playing fields and a community gym/center.
Another committee member, Janet D’Ambrogio, sees Measure Z as a “very minimal way” to assure the City of Manteca can increase its ability to provide municipal services for the city’s 85,000 residents.
“It will make sure the police are well staffed,” noted D’Ambrogio who also is a member of the Manteca Senior Center Advisory Committee. “At a penny on the dollar it is very minimal.”
Torrice noted items such as unprepared food and medicines will not be taxed if Measure Z passes.
Committee members pointed out criticism that Measure Z would drive business away from local car dealers and businesses when it comes to big ticket items is misplaced.
If the sales tax is increased new car buyers in Manteca can’t escape it by buying their vehicles in Modesto, Stockton, Tracy, or elsewhere. That’s because state law requires dealerships to charge the sales rate based on where the buyer resides. By the same token a car buyer from Modesto buying a vehicle in Manteca will not have to pay the higher sales tax.
Cantu doubts someone who spends $100 on taxable items — unprepared food is not taxed — at Costco would drive to the Manteca store to avoid paying $1 for increased sales tax if Measure Z is passed.
“They will spend a lot more on that in gas,” Cantu said,
Passage of Measure Z would take the total sales tax rate in Manteca up to 9.25 percent versus the current 8.25 percent. The city currently receives 1 cent of every 8.25 cents collected on taxable items. Another half a cent is the restricted public safety tax that voters approved in 2006.
Of the remaining 6.75 cents, a half cent goes to the San Joaquin countywide Measure K transportation endeavors while 6.25 cents goes to the State of California.
Based on last year’s taxable sales, a one cent sales tax increase would boost the city’s current general fund by almost 25 percent by adding $12 million to the $47 million the city has to pay for day-to-day services such as police, fire, streets, and parks as well as make it possible to leverage amenities.
Unlike Measure M that was restricted to frontline public safety personnel expenditures there are no restrictions Measure Z language restricting how it would be spent.
Measure Z needs a simple majority vote to pass.
The committee advocating passage of the tax measure has a web page at yesmeasurez.com as well as a Facebook page dubbed “Yes on Measure Z”.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com