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VFW kitchen cost soars
The $115K question: To loan or not to loan
Work continued Thursday on the Moffat Community Center that will serve as the Manteca Veterans Center. - photo by HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin

The debate about whether to loan the Post 6311 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars $50,000 to help pay for a commercial kitchen for the new Moffat Community Center that they will use has gotten a bit more complex.

It’s because the commercial kitchen that the VFW Post estimated to cost $80,000 is actually coming in at $115,000.

At the last council meeting, an effort by Mayor Steve DeBrum and Councilman Mike Morowit to have the city pick up the tab for the kitchen and bar work instead of loaning the VFW money went nowhere when the council split 2-2. Council members Richard Silverman and Debby Moorhead were against the proposal while Councilman Vince Hernandez was absent.

All five council members are expected to be present Tuesday when the issue is revisited during Tuesday’s 7 p.m. meeting. The council meets at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

The VFW originally asked for the loan so they could pay for the kitchen. The terms called for it to be paid in full with interest by Dec. 31, 2016. If the VFW failed to do so, all of the improvements the post made to the building such as the kitchen would revert to city ownership. At the same time the rent that the VFW is paying — $1 a year — would skyrocket to $1,000 a month.

That would be on top of the $2,000 plus a month the VFW would need to pay to maintain and operate the building now under construction on Moffat Boulevard based on terms of their lease.

The higher cost for the kitchen means the $50,000 loan coupled with the $30,000 the VFW has raised so far from the community won’t be enough to pay for it to be built and installed.

It is why the staff has recommended, if the council opts to go with a loan, to make it $84,000 so the VFW would have the cash on hand to do the work.

VFW also has to

buy furnishings

That said the VFW has other expenses to get the building up and running including the purchase of chairs and tables plus other equipment that could push $10,000.

In essence the loan wouldn’t do the VFW much good as they wouldn’t have the money to secure other equipment to make the building operational.

The building and ground work is coming to $1.3 million. On Tuesday the council is being asked to authorize the final $200,000 set aside for the building construction to cover items that weren’t in the original contract with Diede Construction. The work that includes landscaping, a flagpole, site issues related to infrastructure and electricity was anticipated but in order to move the project forward as quickly as possible, they were left out of the original project. The money, though, was set aside to cover the costs.

The funds for the project are coming out of bonus buck collections. That’s shorthand for fees that developers on their own offered to pay in exchange for sewer allocation certainty. Since it is not a fee collected for a specific use such as parks and it isn’t general fund money, there are little restrictions on how it can be spent.

The loan — or the outright installation of the kitchen — would come from the same source.

There would be some slight savings if the VFW and not the city installed the commercial kitchen. While the actual fabrication costs are the same, since any labor contracted by the city is mandated by the federal government to be paid at prevailing wages, it would cost the city 7 percent more for the actual installation work than if the VFW contracted directly with a firm.

Officially known at the Moffat Community Center, the project from its inception was going to be leased to the VFW to serve primarily as a Manteca Veterans Center.

The post under the lease agreement has to make it available to the community when they aren’t using it. The VFW wants the commercial kitchen not just to accommodate post functions but also to make the facility rentable to the community for everything from wedding receptions and parties to fundraisers. The VFW is also hoping to enter into a contract with someone to offer food service much like the Ripon VFW does.

The proceeds will go toward covering the $2,000 plus a month the organization would need for insurance as well as to maintain and operate the facility.

It is similar to the deal the city struck with Big League Dreams. The city built and owns the sports complex as well as the two restaurants that had all of the equipment in the kitchens installed before the keys were turned over to BLD to operate and maintain.

The deal, just like with the VFW, got the city an amenity that they didn’t have to pay for maintenance or operation. In the case of Big League Dreams, the city is avoiding $17 million over a 35-year period in maintenance and operational costs that would have come out of the city general fund that supports everything from police protection to the library.

Based on the VFW maintenance and operation costs plus the fact they have volunteers that will do the landscaping work, the city will avoid in excess of $600,000 in costs over a 20-year period.