Buy into the rant on Nov. 6 and you’ll guarantee the only viable solution Manteca will have to ever catch up on police staffing is by raising taxes.
Most people seem to agree Manteca with a population today of 81,450 people needs at least 10 more police officers to reach a staffing level of one officer per every 1,000 residents.
At the same time people aren’t jumping up and down to raise taxes that they pay to cover the $150,000 plus a year it takes for all payroll related costs for an entry level police officer.
Those who say the city should cut elsewhere need to say exactly where those cuts should be. Maybe we should spend less for street maintenance? Perhaps sell the golf course and Woodward Park to home builders and use the money to add to the public safety personnel endowment fund to use interest to pay for a position or two? Maybe shut down a fire station and trade firefighters for police officers?
To recap, we want more police, but we don’t want to pay more for police, nor do we want any services cut back to pay for them.
So the city comes up with a solution that gets more police officers, won’t require raising taxes on residents, and won’t require cutting back services and what do a number of people do? They scream bloody murder on social media that the city is trying to tax the hell out of Manteca residents while still complaining non-stop about the city not having enough police.
The city’s solution is to increase the hotel room tax that hasn’t been raised since 1992.
If you want Manteca to have six more police officers or a combination of six more police and firefighters and don’t want to pay for it then vote for Measure J on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Measure J is the ballot measure that would increase Manteca’s hotel room tax from 9 percent to 12 percent.
The city now collects $1.2 million a year in room taxes. Passage would bump it up to $1.6 million.
More important when Great Wolf is up and running for a full year instead of the city receiving $581,700 annually after splitting the motel tax with the lodge if the 12 percent rate is in place the city would receive $2,037,500 in room taxes from the water park resort. That’s because anything above 9 percent is exempt from the room tax split that expires after 25 years. Altogether there would be a $2 million annual bump in hotel room taxes to pay for police, fire and other day-to-day city services.
Voters when they passed Measure M — the half cent public safety tax — adopted the ballot language that requires Manteca’s combination of police and fire services from the general fund to never drop below 63 percent. That was so the new sales tax would not backfill the general fund to allow the city to free up what funds they historically spent on public safety money for other uses.
Roughly 80 cents of every general fund dollar Manteca — and most other cities — spends is on personnel costs. That is how a $2 million bump in general fund revenue from passage of Measure J will actually generate when Great Wolf is up and running can lead to six new police and/or fire hires.
The room tax jump will not fund new public safety positions overnight but it will happen.
City Manager Tim Ogden makes it a point to stress that Manteca residents are not exempt from the increased room tax given if they book a room at a Manteca hotel they will be paying it. It’s a safe guess that most of us will never book a room at a Manteca hotel and if we do it will be a rare occurrence.
If you vote against it because you are philosophically against all taxes may I suggest something so you can be purer than snow that has been on the ground for a week in New York City? Vow to not increase your use of anything that taxes make possible such as streets, freeways, parks, schools, police, fire departments, and such. It would make your “taxes are inherently evil” preaching more credible if you don’t avail yourself to what they provide.
The room tax is not a crushing tax.
I rent a room each year for a week in Death Valley (Inyo County) and for a week in the Eastern Sierra (Inyo or Mono counties). The hotel room tax in both counties is 12 percent. I drop $280 annually in room taxes. The 12 percent is a lot less than in San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and elsewhere that not only have higher room taxes but also other local taxes they slap on those renting rooms.
The 12 percent tax hasn’t stopped me from booking a room. At the same time if someone from Mono County books a room in Manteca it’s only fair they pay the same room tax rate that I pay when I stay in their county.
Yes, Measure J increases a tax but it’s a tax primarily on discretionary spending that few Manteca residents will ever pay.
At the same time it funds municipal services.
The bottom line is if you want more municipal services and essentially not have to pay for them Measure J can make it happen.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.