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Forum tonight on ballot plan to pump up city revenues

Great Wolf Resort via its guests could become Manteca’s biggest taxpayer when it opens in mid-2020.

The 500-room hotel resort’s first full year of operations based on conservative occupancy rate projections made by an outside consultant advising the City of Manteca on the deal they inked, would generate $2,023,700  initially in annual hotel room taxes if Measure J is passed on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The measure increases the transit occupancy tax on hotel rooms from its current 9 percent put in place in the early 1990s to 12 percent.

To put that in perspective, Manteca expects to receive $1.2 million this fiscal year from the city’s existing five hotels.

A community information session on the ballot measure is being presented tonight from 6 to 6:45 p.m. at the Civic Center council chambers, 1001 W. Center St.

The forum will be presented by City Manager Tom Ogden who — under state law – can only present facts and not express opinions on city ballot measures. Ogden has also refrained from making projections about what Great Wolf will generate if a 12 percent room tax were in place given the resort has yet to open.

After the first full year of Great Wolf being open, under a 25-year room tax split that was negotiated the city would receive $581,700. Given that any increase up to the capped 12 percent spelled out for 25 years in the Great Wolf agreement would go 100 percent to Manteca, having the 12 percent rate in place when Great Wolf opens would bump Manteca’s annual room tax from Great Wolf up to $2,023,700. After 10 years Great Wolf’s share of the sales tax split is reduced and eventually ends after the 25th year of operation.

A quick rundown of the city’s Measure J fact sheet:

*Passage on Nov, 6 would raise an additional $200,000 for the remainder of the current fiscal year that ends June 30. It would then raise approximately $450,000 in the first full fiscal year.

*The tax is paid by anyone who is a guest at resorts, lodges, hotels, motels, or inns for 30 consecutive days or less.

*The TOT allows communities to help cover costs for services they generate a need for while visiting a city as well as to generate funds to support municipal services such as police, fore, streets, parks, and more.

*The amount charged is based on the per night room rental. If the average room rate is $100, the city currently collects $9 per night. If Measure J is passed, the city would collect $12 per night on a $100 room.

*It will take a simple majority — 50 percent “yes” votes plus one — for the measure to pass.

Cities in the area currently have the following TOT taxes: Escalon 10%, Fresno 12%, Bakersfield 12%, Lodi 6%, Ripon 10%, Turlock 9%, Stockton 8%, Elk Grove 12%, Sacramento 12%, and Tracy 10%

Taking the tax from 9 to 12 percent means Manteca would still be below the statewide average. It would also be lower than Garden Grove (where Great Wolf has a resort) at 14.5 percent, San Francisco at 14 percent, and Los Angeles at 14 percent. At 12 percent it would match Sacramento, Elk Grove, Bakersfield and Fresno.

 The impact measured by what the city would be capable of doing is significant. Given that 62 percent of the general fund goes to public safety, that means $1.4 million more a year would flow into the police and fire budgets. Given salary and benefits account for more than 80 percent of general fund expenditures, around $1.1 million would be able to go toward staffing. Realizing there are other needs besides frontline firefighters and sworn police officers in each department, if you assume $800,000 of that goes to first responders positon the city would be in a position to possible hire up to seven more police officers and/or freighters.

The general fund commitment to police and fire was locked in as a minimum by voters in language that they approved to put the half cent sales tax in place. It was written in to assure that the city would never “back fill” general fund spending on public safety using Measure M sales tax receipts. It essentially assures Measure M half cent sales tax funds will supplement and not replace even a part of the general fund commitment to public safety.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email