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Making visitors pay for protection
Hotel taxes part of Manteca effort to increase services without taxing residents for more money
A water play area inside of a Great Wolf Resort. - photo by Photo Contributed

Folks staying at the Hampton Inn, Best Western, Holiday Inn Express, and America’s Best Value Inn during 2011 paid enough in room taxes to cover the salaries and benefits of almost four Manteca Police officers.

Hotel room taxes brought in a near record $482,825 in the last fiscal year. Visitors pay 9 percent on top of their room rental in transit occupancy taxes.

It is part of the Manteca Visitor Center’s mission to fill hotel rooms as well as steer visitors to dine in Manteca restaurants and spend money at other local businesses and attractions.

“What we do is about getting people who don’t live here to pay for police and fire protection,” noted Suzanne Clemens who serves as a marketing representative for the visitors’ center.

That is the exact reason why the City of Manteca helps underwrite part of the Manteca Visitors Center budget using more than 15 percent of the room tax collected in a given year. For their investment, the city expects the center’s staff to work at bringing tourists to Manteca to further grow room and sales taxes.

And with the Measure M half cent public safety sales tax in place, visitors spending in Manteca also means more money flowing into the special tax account to hire additional police officers and firefighters beyond what the general fund is able to underwrite.

Having non-residents help pay for general fund services is the same goal that is behind the city’s efforts to help bring a Great Wolf Resort with a 75,000-square-foot indoor water park and 30,000-square-foot conference center to Manteca.

City leaders are negotiating with McWhinney Development and Great Wolf resorts to locate a 400- to 600-room hotel on 30 acres owned by the city directly west of Costco along the 120 Bypass. The project could ultimately create 500 permanent jobs, draw 400,000 visitors annually, create 1,000 construction jobs, and cement Manteca as a legitimate tourist attraction.

The city envisioned a special room tax district for Great Wolf. Based on occupancy at the company’s resorts that have opened in recent years that 15 percent tax could generate between $4 million and $6 million annually in additional room taxes for Manteca’s general fund. To put that in perspective, Manteca collected $7,389,414 in sales tax from all taxable retail sales in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011.

To secure Great Wolf, Manteca may have to invest in infrastructure on city-owned property where Daniels Street would be extended west to McKinley Avenue

To cover that cost, Manteca is trying to determine if it is feasible to use part of the additional room tax to cover loans to finance the streets, sewer, water and other improvements.

Mayor Willie Weatherford has repeatedly said the city will only proceed if the ultimate deal hammered out makes financial sense for the city and provides Manteca with a solid return after covering any upfront costs.