Dropping gas prices that in turn have reduced municipal sales tax collected at the pump has stalled growth in the Measure M public sales tax fund.
The half-cent sales tax put in place by voters brought in $5,316,687 during the last fiscal year. This year it was projected to generate $5,409,500. But with gas prices dipping down to $1.97 at some Manteca gas stations, there is a good chance that Measure M revenues will decline for the first time since they were collected for a full fiscal year in 2007-08.
The sales tax covers the $6.1 million annual tab for 15 firefighters and 15 police officers. That’s just a tad fewer than 30 percent of all of Manteca’s front-line public safety personnel.
As positons have been added from 23 in 2009-10 to 30 today using Measure M funds the restricted sales tax account balance has declined from $4.1 million to $2.2 million. There is now a $699,200 gap between annual revenue and expenses. The city can sustain that negative spending for three more years based on current Measure M reserves.
In all likelihood what will happen is it will take a number of years of revenue growth to backfill the reserves. At the same time the 30 public safety positions will have annual increases in salaries and benefits that the account has to cover. The bottom line is Measure M sales tax won’t be funding additional public safety personnel in the foreseeable future.
That said, during an eight year period from 2008 to 2015, annual revenue from the sales tax has gone from $3.8 million to $5.3 million on the strength of growth in taxable retail sales.