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Possible sales tax could fund Lathrop fire services
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LATHROP – Last year Lathrop and rural Manteca voters turned down a property tax increase that would have added more $1 million annually to the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District’s annual operating budget.

But with the possible backing of the Lathrop City Council, the district – which has been struggling financially since San Joaquin County reassessed both property and commercial values following the housing crisis – could get an influx of funding, this time coming from a possible sales tax increase.

The council is considering putting a one cent sales tax increase on the ballot requiring only a simple majority for approval within the city limits of Lathrop. Such a tax could also end up footing the bill that the city pays to the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Department for police services.

The Lew Edwards Group – the consultant that the city hired to gauge public support that will be on hand tonight to disclose their findings – began polling people as early as January of this year and discovered many they talked with would be in favor of the increase.

Manteca currently has a half-cent sales tax known as Measure M that covers the salaries of 23 full-time police and firefighters.

A final decision on whether to move forward with the tax is expected as early as this summer, and would take some funding on behalf of the city in order to get the issue either on the ballot or mailed out to voters for a special election.

Polling on behalf of the consultant was used along with 2-by-2 meetings with representatives from both of the agencies to determine the feasibility and how much they could be benefitted.

The staff report makes no mention about whether enough money would be generated for the city to start its own independent police department – a topic that has come up in the past.