A 14-year-old measure approved by city voters stands as a de facto spending plan of sorts should the Manteca City Council opt to place a one cent sales tax on the ballot and a majority of voters approve it on Nov. 3.
Passage of the Measure M half cent sales tax in November 2006 approved language that essentially guaranteed no less than 62.9 percent of the general fund will be spent on public safety.
As outlined in the impartial analysis from Manteca City Attorney John Brinton that appeared with the Public Safety Tax proposal, “Measure M specifies that it is the intent of the voters that new revenues collected shall supplement, rather than supplant, existing City expenditures for Public Safety. This means that Measure M funds must be spent in addition to funds the City of Manteca already spends on public safety. “
The city was spending just under 63 percent of its general fund on police and fire when Measure M was passed.
The council is meeting at 7 o’clock tonight via Zoom to determine whether to place the 1 cent per dollar sales tax measure on the November ballot.
Based on the projection Measure M placed on the general fund would generate $12 million a year, that would mean the police and fire budget would ultimately be increased in the first full year of revenue collections by $7,548,000. That would leave $4,452,000 for other purposes.
While Measure M tax receipts can only be spent on frontline personnel covering salaries, benefits, retirement costs as well as police/fire protection such as gear and apparatus there were no such restrictions placed on general fund expenditures for public safety.
That means any of the new money generated by a one cent sales tax that essentially has almost 63 percent of it earmarked for public safety can go toward hiring more officers and firefighters, equipment such as police vehicles and fire engineers, dispatchers, support staff such as community service and resource officers, a training facility, and even leverage funding for a new police facility among other possibilities.
The city has honored restrictions placed on Measure M including reaching the bench mark where it is now funding 15 police officers and 15 firefighters.
They also rejected a bid by former City Manager Tim Ogden not to pay for school resource officers after it was pointed out by legal counsel that the detailed language of the measure approved by voters that doesn’t allow the city to reduce general fund revenue committed to public safety also stated Measure M would pay for school resource officers.
Ogden has tried to get the school district to pay for the school resource officers counter to the will of the voters.
The language preventing the city from reducing the general fund commitment to public safety if Measure M was approved by voters was the direct result of 85 percent of the voters rejecting a general sales tax increase in 2004. It was just like the one now being proposed. It also required just a simple majority to pass.
The general fund commitment language was also a key to gaining the support of the Manteca Firefighters Association that vigorously campaigned for Measure M along with the Manteca Police Officers Association
With the restriction in place, Measure M — which required two thirds approval — garnered 70 percent of the votes cast.
Just like with Measure M, the new tax proposal would create an independent citizens oversight committee to monitor how money from the additional once cent sales tax would be spent.
The City Council may decide if it wishes to authorize an individual member or up to five members to draft an argument, not to exceed 300 words, for or against the proposed ballot measure to be included in the ballot material. The City Council is not obligated to name any of its members. If Council chooses not to authorize any member(s) to draft arguments, then any individual who is eligible to vote on the measure, or bona fide association of citizens, or any combination of voters and associations, may file a written argument for or against the ballot measure.
If more than one argument is submitted, the City Clerk would select an argument in favor of the measure for the ballot pamphlet, in accordance with the priority order set forth in Elections Code Section 9287. The deadline to submit arguments will be Aug. 14.
Tonight’s council meeting can be viewed either on Comcast Channel 97 or livestreamed over the city’s website.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org