Janet D’Ambrogio sees Measure Z — the one cent sales tax on the Nov.3 ballot — 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,” she noted. “At a penny on the dollar it is very minimal.”
D’Ambrogio is part of the citizen’s committee advocating passage of Measure Z. She sees the need for the increased sales tax from the perspective of a retired person. She also serves on the Manteca Senior Advisory Committee.
She moved to Manteca in the 1980s when it had 25,000 residents. Manteca now has 85,000 residents.
D’Ambrogio pointed out while the population has grown, revenue for various services such as police, fire, streets, parks, and such have not kept up.
The city relies primarily on two sources of revenue to cover general fund expenses that are at $47 million this fiscal year — property tax at $17 million and sales tax at $12 million.
Due to Proposition 13 that caps property tax increases to 2 percent a year, property tax receipts from a majority of property in Manteca has not kept up with inflation unless it was just sold and reassessed based on the current selling price.
After years of trying to deflect criticism from residents that they aren’t getting what they expect from the property taxes they pay, the city in the current budget document finally included an easy-to-understand pie chart that shows of every $100 a Manteca homeowner pays in property taxes the city receives $9.73, Manteca Unified School District $54.06, San Joaquin County $18.73, and special districts $17.48.
If your home has an assessed value, which is not the market value, of $300,000 your basic property rate exclusive of bond payments is 1 percent or $3,000.
From that the city would receive $281.90. That is just enough to cover the cost in salary, benefits, retirement, and other payroll costs if a police officer for four hours of work.
The proposed tax hike — just like the current sales tax — is not assessed on essential items.
D’Ambrogio notes that means things 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.
Mayor Ben Cantu doubts someone who spends $100 on taxable items — unprepared food is not taxed — at Costco would drive to the Modesto 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 a restricted public safety tax that voters approved that is currently funding 17 police officers and 15 firefighters. Without the half cent sales tax the city would be unable to fully staff fire stations while there would only be 59 instead of 76 police officers.
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.
“Being retired, we need to make sure we have city services we can rely on,” D’Ambrogio said.
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