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PANDEMIC MAY HAVE CREATED $7.2M WINDFALL FOR MANTECA
Budget message: City revenues are near 100% financial recovery from COVID-19 lockdowns
spreckels ave
A growing list of road needs such as deteriorating pavement on Spreckels Avenue could have a sizeable dent made if “windfall” COVID relief funds are spent on streets.

The economic damage the COVID-19 pandemic inflicted on the City of Manteca’s ability to fund day-to-day operations appears to be about $6.7 million.

That’s the combined total of the $4,905,768 deficit anticipated for this budget year ending June 30 and the $1,790,136 projected deficit for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Those numbers are contained in the proposed operating budget for the upcoming 2021-2022 fiscal year being reviewed during a City Council workshop at 2 p.m. today at the Manteca Transit Center, 220 Moffat Blvd.

The city is now expected to receive $13.9 million in federal COVID relief in the coming months. Assuming the City Council will backfill reserves drawn down to cover the drop-off in city operating revenue created by COVID-19 lockdowns, that will leave $7.2 million from the relief funds that can essentially be viewed as a windfall.

Key assumptions being made by the city include a near financial recovery in the general fund from the impact of COVID-19. Property taxes are expected to increase 3 percent, sales tax will reach full recovery in the second quarter and be at 96 percent recovery for the overall fiscal year, and hotel room taxes are anticipated to make a 100 percent recovery.

What to do with the windfall that appears to be right around $7.2 million could set the stage for a political struggle on the council.

Some have expressed a desire to shore up reserves even more. Mayor Ben Cantu is adamant that is the wrong thing to do.

The only real consensus emerging is agreement with financial consultant Stephanie Beauchaine’s advice the federal relief funds left over after making the general fund whole from the impact of the pandemic should go toward one-time expenditures.

That’s because hiring personnel and such with the one-time funds would create reoccurring costs the city would need to fund on an annual basis.

The council could easily spend all of any “windfall” from the federal windfall in a bid to make dents in road projects.

Among the critical road issues facing the council is completing the funding for the McKinley Avenue interchange on the 120 Bypass to allow that project to go forward. It has the most economic development possibilities at stake as it is viewed as a catalyst to generate tax revenue and more jobs for the family entertainment zone bookended by the 500-room Great Wolf indoor waterpark resort and the Big League Dreams complex.

There is a long list of pressing road maintenance needs for Manteca’s 27 worst streets along with deteriorating streets throughout 13 neighborhoods that as put at $38.6 million in a study done almost three years ago. That study was referenced during the city’s unsuccessful bid to get a one cent sales tax increase passed last November. The list was reduced by $1.4 million when a segment of Lathrop Road was rebuilt last month.

Just recently the city rolled out a cost estimate of what it would take to get Airport Way through the city limits up to standard and targeted widening in sections from the current two lanes to four or six. The price tag is $130 million.

Then there are streets that didn’t make the 2018 list that are slipping fast. The includes segments of Spreckels Avenue and Industrial Park Drive that are getting hammered by increased truck traffic.

 

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com