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Manteca takes $500M hit
City leaders now fear state may steal millions
HOME2 7-19-09
The assessed value of property dropped $500.3 million in Manteca during 2008 largely due to foreclosures like this one on Center Street being sold at bargain prices. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Manteca’s assessed property values have plummeted $500.3 million or 14.7 percent.

The readjustment of property values was made by San Joaquin County Assessor Ken Blakemore’s office based on the market as of Jan. 1, 2009 as required by state law. In all, there were 155,000 homes reviewed with assessments lowered on 95,000 single-family residences countywide. Many commercial and industrial property assessments were lowered as well. Overall, San Joaquin County assessed property values dropped 10.7 percent or almost $6 billion.

Manteca municipal leaders had anticipated a 15 percent drop. City Manager Steve Pinkerton said Manteca probably will hit the 15 percent mark in reduced value as homes sell throughout the year at lower prices.

Tracy took the biggest hit among San Joaquin County cities with values plummeting 18.1 percent. Lathrop’s residential values actually had a steeper drop than in many cities due to buyers ignoring homes for an extended period of time west of Interstate 5 that have heavy Mello-Roos taxes that aren’t reduced with values dropping. The city was saved, though, by an increase of nearly 5 percent in its industrial base. Even so, Lathrop assessed values dropped 15.7 percent.

Manteca looking at
up to $3M in more cuts

Pinkerton noted that the property tax and sales tax figures for Manteca are coming in about where the city projected.

That would leave the city with a need to cut between $2 million to $3 million more to balance the budget for the fiscal year that started July 1.

Unfortunately, the fear was realized Monday in the budget deal in Sacramento that the state will again turn to local government to solve their money problems instead of doing layoffs or freezing positions such as happened at the city and county levels. Local governments are being saddled with the loss of $3.7 billion of revenue that legally is collected for their use as part of the budget deal.

Without yet another state raid on local treasuries, Manteca could keep things on even keel with some labor concessions and minimum inter-fund borrowing. Should the state take away another $1 million to $2 million in local revenue by “borrowing it” for an unspecified period of time, it would force severe reductions in services.

 Although the state has issued 33,000 layoff notices, no state workers have yet to lose their jobs.

The state budget deficit – now projected to hit $26 billion by June of 2010 – already has prompted the state to start charging local jurisdictions for services such as crime labs to process evidence.

The Manteca City Council has already agreed to join other California municipalities to sue the state if they try to take more funds that legally belong to cities and redevelopment agencies in a bid to balance the state budget. California cities already won a favorable ruling that blocked the state from taking even more RDA money. However, California legislators are working on another angle to get around the court’s ruling.

Since the 1990s, Manteca – either from the city’s day-to-day operations or RDA – has had nearly $20 million taken from the city to cover state spending.

Manteca has already slashed in excess of $8 million from the current budget. Much of it derives from a year ago when the city saw serious issues ahead and started leaving positions unfilled. They also have reorganized, added efficiencies, early retirements, and secured concessions from employee groups through unpaid furlough days. A smaller part of the $8 million includes added fees to recover the cost of providing services where the city can legally impose them.

The deficit impacts only the general fund. Even so, the city re-examined all operations – including the enterprise accounts for things such as sewer, water and garbage – to find ways to reduce costs. They also encouraged early retirements which opened some enterprise account positions to allow general fund employees to apply and possibly transfer.

Pinkerton emphasized the real fear is what the state will end up doing to resolve their next deficit. Unlike cities and counties that can turn to another government jurisdiction, state legislature leaders have made it clear they have no choice but cannibalize local revenue sources or else they’d have to make even further reductions in state programs. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he won’t let that happen although many local government leaders – including Pinkerton – aren’t holding their breath.

“The real fear is they will come back in four to six months with another deficit and then come back to local cities and counties and take even more,” Pinkerton said.

If the state adopts a budget by the end of the month, Manteca will examine the impacts on local services and then cobble together a final spending plan together for consideration by the City Council in September.

Manteca adopted a continuing resolution to allow spending under the 2008-09 fiscal year budget in June instead of a budget that would have bean meaningless without property and sales tax figures that account for the largest chunk of revenue sources as well as whatever financial hit the state is going to deliver.

Re-assessment notices
coming in mail this week

The assessor’s office is sending out 95,000 notices this week. They indicate the 2009-2010 assessed value (market value estimate) for their property as well as the value their property would be assessed if not lowered. The tax breaks usually aren't permanent. Once a property gets a Proposition 8 reduction, the assessor's office must review its assessed value each year until the housing market stabilizes. Property owners with questions about their assessments can seek help at the Assessor’s website ( or call (209) 469-7426 to leave your parcel number or property address and return phone number..

Blakemore is requesting people not to pursue a review until they get their notice to see their assessment. The “Prop 8” value on the notice will automatically be reflected on the bill that will be sent out in October. If you believe you have evidence the market value of your property on January 1, 2009, was less than the taxable value indicated on the notice you may file an Informal Decline-in-Value Review Application. Applications are available at the website, or call 468-2729 to have an application mailed to you. Applications will be accepted through October 31, 2009. “We are asking all taxpayers to fill out an Informal Decline-in-Value Review Application in order to consider any variation from their value on their notice,” Blakemore said. This is necessary because of the expected volume of requests. Hopefully, property owners have realized they don't need to pay private firms hundreds of dollars to do something we are doing for free as part of our job.”

If you do not receive a notice by the end of July and would like to have your property value reviewed for the 2009/2010 tax year (value as of January 1, 2009), you will also need to fill out an Informal Decline-in-Value Review Application no later than October 31, 2009. These are not to be confused with Assessment Appeal Applications which are available at the Clerk of the Boards’ website and due November 30, 2009.

This is Blakemore’s first assessment roll since being appointed in February.

"The 2009 Assessment Roll is an accurate and fair reflection of the assessed values of 238,056 assessments including residential, agricultural, and commercial/industrial properties, business equipment, boats and aircraft, throughout San Joaquin County," Blakemore said.