Manteca will use $115,000 in bonus bucks to pay for a commercial kitchen and bar for the $1.3 million Moffat Community Center that — once it is completed — will be turned over to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6311 to operate.
Tuesday’s Manteca City Council decision means the city will turn over the keys to the 3,600-square-foot building to the VFW fully equipped at the start of their 20-year lease. It is same thing the city did with the sports complex when it turned the $30 million project over to Big League Dreams for a 35-year lease. In both cases the leasee is responsible for all maintenance and operation costs including insurance and utilities for both buildings and grounds.
It means that the VFW will not need a loan from the city of $84,000 to pay for the improvements that they had originally requested.
Post Commander Carlon Perry noted the VFW will be able to use what money they have raised to date to purchase equipment such as chairs and tables. About a third of the $30,000 so far collected through the honor brick program will need to go to cover the cost of having bricks engraved and installed.
The post, once the doors open, will have to pay for an estimated $2,500 for monthly operation and maintenance costs.
The Moffat Community Center will serve primarily as the Manteca Veterans Center. The center with a seating capacity of 137 for dining and 336 for general meetings will be available to rent through the VFW when they are not using it. The commercial kitchen will not only facilitate such rental uses but it would allow the post to have food service similar to what Ripon VFW has at their post home. Perry has said the post is considering contracting with an individual to run a food operation that would also be open to the public.
The council approved spending the money collected from developers in return for sewer allocation certainty for new homes. The 3-1 vote had Richard Silverman dissenting while Debbie Moorhead was absent.
Silverman, who is a veteran, stressed that his vote in no way meant he was against veterans or wasn’t grateful for the sacrifices they had made serving America.
Silverman indicated that his position was based on his desire to be a good steward of all taxpayer’s dollars whether they came for bonus bucks, property taxes, sales taxes, or other sources.
“Someone worked hard for that money,” Silverman said.
The councilman believed the $1.2 million represented a significant investment in veterans and that he preferred that the Legion go with the loan that they had asked the city to make and that the council tentatively agreed to do in a unanimous vote last month.
He cited a long list of projects that the city is delaying or passing on this year due to not having funding. The list included $33,000 for a new floor for the senior center and $120,000 for crosswalk improvements. He also noted the additional funds being spent on the community center could pay for a salary of either a police officer or firefighter for one year.
Councilman Mike Morowit noted the center is still a public facility. He added it was important that veterans have a place where they can gather with peers that understand what they went through.