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MANTECA ELECTION
Mayor’s race, hotel room tax tops Manteca ballot Tuesday
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Manteca voters Tuesday could make it possible for the city to hire more police officers and pay for other city services not on their dime but as an increased room tax charged to those who stay in hotels including the 500-room Great Wolf Resort when it opens in mid-2020.

Measure J — the proposal to increase the transit occupancy tax from 9 to 12 percent — shares the ballot with the mayor’s race as well as a contest for two council seats.

The mayor’s race is a rematch of the 2014 election pitting Steve DeBrum against Ben Cantu. DeBrum garnered 62 percent of the votes four years ago to 38 percent for Cantu. DeBrum is the seventh directly elected Manteca mayor since voters started making that decision 34 years ago. Before that council members elected one of their own each year to run council meetings.

This is Cantu’s third run for mayor. He has run for council twice making this his sixth consecutive bid to gain election. Cantu is a retired Manteca city planner and operates his own planning/design business.

DeBrum was first elected to the council in a special election in 2003. He retired this year as the Northern California manager for Dairy Farmers of America.

Four candidates are seeking election to the two council seats.

They include incumbent Mike Morowit who was elected four years ago and who owns a liquor store. The challengers are Chris Silva, a PG&E worker; David Breitenbucher, a retired Manteca fire captain; and Jose Nuno, a planning commission and an employee of a non-profit firm that builds affordable housing.

 

Room tax increase

is first in 20 years

 Manteca voters are being asked to bump up the room tax for the first time in 27 years from the current 9 percent to 12 percent. That means the tax paid on a $100 room for a one night stay would increase $3.

To pass, the measure requires support of the majority of the votes cast.

With existing hotels that will increase the city’s room tax receipts for the first full year by $450,000. Based on how general fund money is distributed with 60 percent going to public safety that could allow the city to either hire two more police officers, two more firefighters or a combination without relying on increasing property or sales tax rates.
By passing the tax on Nov. 6, it will be in place when the 500-room Great Wolf Resort opens in mid-2020.  That means based on historic 70 percent occupancy figures for its resorts Great Wolf expects to collect $4,237,000 in annual room taxes at the existing 9 percent rate.

Based on the 25-year period the city has agreed to share room tax with Great Wolf, the first $2 million a year would go to Great Wolf to help offset the $180 million plus in development costs. The remaining room tax would be shared with the city receiving 25 percent and Great Wolf receiving 75 percent for the first 10 years. Then for the next 15 years the split is 50-50 before the city receives all of the room tax in the 26th year and thereafter.

That 25 percent split for the first 10 years brings the city’s share to $529,625.

None of the increase of the room tax going from 9 percent to 12 percent would be shared with Great Wolf.  Based on the $4,237,000 annual room tax collection projection at 9 percent, jumping the tax rate to 12 percent would bring an additional $1,412,333 to the city’s general fund. Using the 62 percent general fund share for public safety mandated by voters when they approved the half cent public safety tax so the city wouldn’t backfill general funding of police and fire with the special tax receipts, that means the 3 percent increase on Great Wolf rooms would generate $847,500 for public safety. If that was all spent on hiring entry level police officers the city would be able to fund just shy of 7 more police officers from taxes collected on overnight stays by Great Wolf guests.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Absentee ballots can be dropped off Tuesday at any polling place in Manteca. Among the polling places is the Union Road fire station at 1154 South Union Road. Woodward School at 575 Tannehill Lane, Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane, and United Lutheran Church, 649 Northgate Drive.

 

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com