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Manteca: A fast food Mecca
Taxable sales back to almost pre-Great Recession levels
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Eating is helping ease belt tightening in Manteca.

Manteca consumers for the past six years have increased their annual dining out expenditures in what is considered the most precarious quarter for businesses of all types - January, February, and March.

Mantecans spent a record $19,289,000 eating out in the first quarter of 2011. What is spent in Manteca dining establishments has been inching up every year for the past two decades. The big shift, according to restaurant owners, is traditional sit-down establishments have had to struggle to keep clientele while fast food spending has increased.

It is why Manteca is getting a fifth McDonald’s as well as a Chick-fil-A. Both are going in along Airport Way at the 120 Bypass.

There were 151 food service and drinking places in Manteca in the first quarter of 2011 that racked up $19,289,000 in sales. That compares to 132 in 2006 with sales of $15,707,000 in the first quarter of that year.

Economists indicate that dining out is typically one of the first areas that consumers cutback on in hard times.

Overall first quarter taxable sales for 2011 in Manteca were at $169,951,000 compared to $175,553,000 in 2006. First quarter sales peaked at $177,725,000 in 2007 just before the housing bubble burst.

Taxable sales are one of two-key economic barometers for both the private sector as well as city government. The first quarter trends are considered especially significant to judge the economy’s underlying strength given it is the weakest time for consumer spending and there is no major spending stimulus such as Christmas

On Wednesday, the state Board of Equalization released figures showing that statewide taxable sales increased 9.0 percent between the first quarter of 2010 and the same period in 2011. Manteca increased 2.48 percent during the same time period. In the three years prior to that, Manteca nearly doubled the statewide gain in first quarter to first quarter taxable sales comparisons.

“We fared much better than many other jurisdictions for the first few years of (The Great Recession),.” noted City Manager Karen McLaughlin.

That had to do in a large part to the opening of Bass Pro Shops. Though the closely held private corporation does not release sales figures, data the retailer provided to an economic analyst firm looking at the shopping center deal that brought the outdoors firm to Manteca placed the first year sales projection for the Orchard Valley store at almost $200 million.

Bass Pro Shops has helped soften the loss of big ticket retailers specifically Manteca Dodge and Sexton Chevrolet. Auto sales and parts sales were at $29,899,000 in the first quarter of 2008 when both were still in business. A year later with both gone, the category of sales plunged to $20,166,000.

J&M Equipment has helped to almost negate the loss in sales from Sexton Chevrolet. Still, first quarter sales in 2011 for Manteca for autos and parts were at $21,030,000. Nationwide - and in Manteca - car sales picked up significant steam in the second quarter of 2011. Numbers for that taxable sales quarter have yet to be released.

Manteca now has to deal with the loss of Manteca Buick GMC that closed this past summer.

Sales tax is the second highest source of income for the City of Manteca’s stressed general fund that pays for day-to-day municipal services such as police and fire protection plus parks and streets. Sales tax accounts for $8.4 million or just about a third of the $25.8 million the general fund was expected to receive from various sources for the current fiscal year ending June 30.

Manteca expects 2% jump in sales tax receipts

Property tax is the biggest single source coming in at $8.7 million for the current fiscal year.

McLaughlin said the city’s sales tax analyst projects Manteca to receive a 2 percent increase in sales tax receipts in the next fiscal year.

At the same time, the San Joaquin County Assessor’s Office is tentatively projecting a 4 percent increase in property tax revenue. If that occurs, it will be the first time property tax receipts have increased in four years for Manteca.

Manteca, though, has suffered smaller percentage losses in property tax values than any other jurisdiction in San Joaquin County thanks primarily to residential housing still going on at a clip of 300 units per year plus commercial and business parks that were completed in the early part of The Great Recession.

Even though Manteca will have at least four new retailers - Burlington Coat Factory, Banana Republic, Big Lots, and Dollar General open in the coming few months, none of the sales collected will help in the fiscal year starting July 1. That’s because the state - as part of a move several years ago to cover one of their previous year’s budget deficits - started to hold onto to all sales tax from new retail outlets for  almost a year before giving cities and counties their legal share.

Manteca collects 8.25 cents on every dollar of taxable sales. Of that, 6.25 cents is kept by the state, one cent goes to the Manteca general fund, a half a cent goes to Measure M to pay for police and firefighters, and a half a cent goes to Measure K to pay for transportation project throughout San Joaquin County.