A half a cent is saving four police officer jobs.
Since July 1, the extra half cent on every dollar spent on a taxable retail transaction in Manteca is helping keep four police officers on the street. The four positions had been funded for the past three years by a $1,473,340 federal grant that was part of the American Recovery Act that ran out June 30.
Dropping revenue was forcing Manteca to cut 16 police positions in November 2009. The federal COPS Hiring Recover program that was part of the federal stimulus effort allowed the city to only layoff 12 officers
Measure M is now covering the salaries and benefits plus supplies for 15 Manteca Police officers. In addition, the four officer gang-unit that was reactivated last month is being funded from an $8 million public safety endowment set up with fees paid by Atherton Homes and Pulte Homes.
That means 19 of the 61 budgeted sworn police positions – or 31 percent of the force – is now being funded from special taxes and fees collected from growth. Prior to November 2005 when voters approved the special sales tax for public safety, all of the department’s employees – including sworn personnel that are trained to carry guns and enforce laws – were paid from the general fund.
The Public Safety Sales Tax Committee comprised of citizens at their last meeting pored over city documents and determined that the Measure M is being property implemented.
Committee members conformed that Measure M funds are only being used for police and fire personnel in addition to those funded by the general fund. The city is also continuing to fund police and fire at the same percentage of the general fund that they did in 2005 as required in ballot language approved by voters.
The citizens’ panel has noted some of the confusion about whether the sales tax is being properly implemented stems from the fact that the economy has retracted over the past five years.
Critics contend that the city cut city general fund spending for police in violation of the Measure M promises. But the language is clear that the city is required to maintain the same funding level as a percentage of the general fund which they have done. In other words, 63 percent of the general fund revenue in a particular year – whatever the amount is – has to go to police and fire expenditures.
City general fund revenues rely heavily on property and sales taxes plummeted from $36,798,681 in the 2007-08 fiscal year to $27,137,075 in the current fiscal year that started July 1. That would have proportionally shrunk the Manteca Police force by 19 officers to 42 as compared to the 61 they have funding for today thanks to Measure M and the public safety endowment fund. That means 31 percent of all police officers are not paid for with traditional general fund money.
There are also 12 Manteca firefighters out of 40 front line personnel that are funded with Measure M receipts.
Measure M was on pace to bring in $4.1 million for the 12-month period ending June 30. That is 15 percent off the original five-year program projected when Measure M was passed. It mirrors the 15 percent drop in the city’s general once cent sales tax.
The fund on June 30 has an estimated reserve of $3,534,486. That means the city has enough cash on hand to fund the 15 police positions and 12 firefighters for about 11 months without any additional sales tax revenue coming in.