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Lathrop-Manteca Fire District budget tops $9.5 million
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Things are changing for the Lathrop-Manteca Fire Protection District. 

When the City of Lathrop incorporated in 1989 – many years after the Manteca-Lathrop Rural County Fire Protection District was formed in 1936 – only 5,000 people called Lathrop home. 

According to the 2017/18 budget prepared by the district and approved last week, Lathrop now has more than 24,000 residents and is expected to reach 35,000 people by the 2020 census. 

If all of the housing projects that have approved were built completely, according to the fact sheet, Lathrop would have an estimated population of 70,000. 

Some of the factors playing a part in the population explosion include:

uThe approval and construction of River Islands – which will bring more than 11,000 homes, a 325-acre employment center, a 50-acre town center and 17,000 new jobs by way of 4 million square feet of non-residential development. 

uThe approval of the Central Lathrop Specific Plan, which will bring up to 6,800 dwelling units through a variety of zoning densities as well as 4.5 million square feet of office commercial in Lathrop’s I-5 regional commercial corridor.

uThe continuation of the 2,500-home master planned community of Mossdale Village, which boasts more than 27 acres of freeway commercial property anchored by target as well as 1 million square feet of retail and office space. 

uThe approval of the South Lathrop Specific Plan which will develop 315 acres of freeway commercial property to create more than 5 million square feet of distribution warehouses – with three buildings each measuring at more than 1 million square feet. 

And in order to protect all of that property – and to cover a unique set of challenges presented by Lathrop’s geographic and commercial makeup, including covering a rail depot, a fertilizer plant, a section of California’s arterial interstate and what has become a major freeway interchange – proper planning and budgeting is a must. 

Over the course of the next year it will cost the district roughly $9.56 million to conduct the annual business and operation of the growing district, which recently has had to add additional apparatus in order to meet the needs of the emerging distribution sector that has been helping drive Lathrop’s economic growth. 

Because of the size of some of the buildings that are being constructed – with three expected to come as part of the South Lathrop Specific Plan measuring more than 1 million square feet each – the district recently added a ladder truck with a 100-foot extension capable of providing access to the rooftops of some of the larger buildings, and provide an aerial fire attack if that were to be necessary. 

And with the district still recovering from the economic downturn that drastically cut revenue and forced deep cuts that led to layoffs and the browning out of fire stations, additional factors were taken into consideration when mapping out the 207/18 budget. That includes fluctuations to property tax revenue due to changes in the economic environment, changes in population, changes in the political environment, anticipated changes in property values within the district and recent annexations contributing to the decline of the District’s service boundaries. 

This fiscal year the district expects to take in more than $3.7 million in property taxes and almost $2.2 million in intergovernmental revenue. The District’s portion of Measure C proceeds – generated by the one-cent sales tax increase approved by voters in 2014 in which 40 percent was pledged to help the then-struggling District – is anticipated to reach $1,364,975 – the bulk of the miscellaneous revenues being factored into the overall operating budget. 

The district currently employs 33 uniformed personnel and utilizes the services of 25 reservists to staff the four current stations that serve the City of Lathrop as well as the communities of Nile Garden and New Haven, the Oakwood Shores development and Raymus Village in additional to other rural areas. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.