Not since the Canarsie Indians accepted $24 in beads, cloth, trinkets, and Dutch guilders from the Dutch West India Company in exchange for Manhattan Island has anyone got such a short end of the stick in a deal.
San Joaquin County made two deals with Manteca that make the trinkets-for-Manhattan deal seem like the Dutch may have paid too much.
One deal is centered on the county essentially blackmailing the cities throughout San Joaquin County to give up 80 percent of a city’s future property tax share on all land that is annexed into a city and then developed.
The other is the $1 deal that locked up 10 acres of prime real estate for the building of a satellite county center in Manteca across from Big League Dreams to serve the South County.
A decade or so ago the county decided that it wouldn’t allow land to annex to cities and be urbanized unless they got a piece of the action.
In a split that would make the mafia jealous, the county gets 80 percent of the city’s future share of property taxes and the city just 20 percent.
The county wouldn’t be on the hook for police and fire protection, parks, streets, or anything else that new residents require and expect that the city needs to collect property tax to help fund.
If the city didn’t agree to a legal form of extortion then the land couldn’t be annexed or — in a worst case scenario — the county would allow the property in question to be urbanized annexing to a city.
This works out real well in keeping sprawl in check and creating communities that have hearts, souls and all required services. Just look at East Stockton and East Sacramento County.
The county has a less than stellar record of allowing city-style urbanization in unincorporated areas such as Raymus Village just outside the northeast Manteca city limits especially when it comes to critical infrastructure such as wastewater treatment.
Not learning from their lack of expertise and willingness to provide urban-style services, the county allowed Oakwood Shores on Woodward Avenue west of Manteca to proceed using a mini wastewater treatment plant.
Not only is Oakwood Shores now looking to Manteca to help solve their pending sewer woes as Raymus Village did, but the impacted home owners will be paying more in the long run than if Oakwood Shores had been annexed from the start to the city.
The reason is simple. The homes in Oakwood sold based on the prevailing market. They weren’t “cheaper” because the county eager to develop and pocket tax dollars stayed with a smaller treatment plant already in place that was known from the start would ultimately be inadequate. So Oakwood homeowners will be on the hook for the cost of essential service infrastructure to ferry sewage to the Manteca system. As an added bonus instead of having the city’s fairly sizeable wastewater connection fee per house collapsed into their mortgage, they will have to come up with a way to pay it.
The county doesn’t care about the plight of the Oakwood Shores homeowners. They got their property taxes without having to provide any urban services to speak of.
The land deal for the county center involves an option to buy land along the 120 Bypass next door to the Sizzler’s restaurant to locate satellite offices for the sheriff’s department, district attorney, public defender, human services, public health, and community development and possibly a Superior Court building. It also locked in development rates for an overall cost of $1.8 million — considerably less than today’s fee costs.
Manteca cut the deal because with up to 400 jobs eventually it was considered a good spark plug for the local economic engine. Those workers — as well as people who access county services from throughout the South County — would be highly likely to drop more than a few dimes at Manteca restaurants, gas stations, and nearby stores such as Costco and Kohl’s.
Granted, the county could back of the deal.
But here’s the problem. The City of Manteca when it comes to annexations carries the burden of picking up most of the costs of serving the new development.
It must be noted the county does indeed still incur some costs — the county jail, part of the court system, the county hospital, and human services — that property taxes help fund. But property tax money collected under the 80-20 split favoring the county would not pay for fire and police protection (62 percent of the municipal budget) for those new homes or the cost of over city service under the general fund that homeowners require an expect.
A more equitable split is needed. A 50-50 split seems more equitable and reasonable.
And if the county refuses to budge on the sweetheart property tax split deal, they should honor the deal for the satellite county center.
Some are saying the county center deal is dead and that the county is moving in a different direction.
If that’s the case, what exactly are those new residents going to get in terms of stepped up county services in exchange for weakening the city’s ability to provide basic services for them such a police and fire protection?