The two biggest ticket items in the proposed Manteca municipal budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 are addressing homeless issues and economic development.
The recommended spending plan will be reviewed by the City Council when they meet today at noon at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
Spending $19 million on the South Main Street homeless navigation center and affordable housing project tops the list.
All of the funds are from state and federal sources. The largest is a specific $15 million grant to build the navigation center.
The project, that is now going through the federal environmental review process as it entails federal funds as well, is expected to break ground in the upcoming fiscal year.
The navigation center is not a drop-in shelter. Instead, it will provide services to help people that commit to getting off the streets to getting back on their feet.
City Manager Toni Lundgren, based on council goals, is recommending the city spend $1 million on a downtown specific plan as well as $250,000 to update the family entertainment zone to make it more marketable.
The proposed expenditure for a downtown specific plan comes as the city appears to be making headway with downtown merchants and property owners to form a business improvement district.
Such a district is considered critical as it would assure that everyone is working together and the city is not simply spending money on working plans that there hasn’t been a general buy in to make them work.
Several years ago, the council pulled the plug on such an expenditure when they were piecing together a budget after the majority of downtown property owners and businesses made it clear they weren’t on the same page.
They didn’t want to repeat the same mistake of past councils that — based on being told by downtown property owners and businesses that there was buy in — went ahead and spent substantial tax dollars and staff time developing plans only to have the plan that was developed not be embraced.
As a result, five downtown plans have been developed over the years and four of them produced little or no results.
The last plan did lead to streetscape improvements and installing specialty street lights, bulb outs, Library Park upgrades, the transit station, helping fund mural improvements, among other upgrades.
It is why the current council has placed a heavy emphasis that a business improvement district was needed to be in place as a specific plan was being developed.
The business improvement district would create a united front with downtown property owners and businesses working together to determine the direction the central district is going as well as to fund day-to-day marketing and improvement efforts to entice more people to spend time and money in downtown.
The city, as the largest property owner, would end up paying the largest assessment.
Also the city has stepped up its efforts in recent years to pump new life into downtown.
They have adopted and are enforcing an aggressive abatement program that takes time to bring nuisance and/blighted property into code compliance.
The city has also bought two properties on Sycamore Avenue.
One — the former county health clinic — is being prepped as a satellite location for city offices.
The other property, on the northwestern corner of Sycamore and Yosemite avenues, is now a parking lot.
The city is in preliminary talks regarding the parking lot with a developer interested in an affordable housing endeavor of some type on the upper floors with retail on the ground floor.
The city has also stepped up efforts to keep downtown clean addressing homeless related issues on a daily basis as well as power washing pavers and sidewalks.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org