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Silverman’s pitch for boost to Manteca’s public safety with ½ cent targeted sales tax
A loaded 12-gauge shotgun that was reported stolen out of Stockton and a loaded .40 caliber handgun with the serial numbers filed off were recovered by Manteca Police in early March when a traffic stop yielded the weapons within arm’s reach of the driver and passenger. So far in 2022, Manteca Police officers are seizing illegal guns off the streets every two days on average.


Richard Silverman is not a tax and spend liberal.

He’s a moderate Republican who served on the Manteca City Council from 2014 through 2018.

Silverman throughout the years — including his time on the council — has accurately stated there has never been a city that has ever had enough money to do the things they need to do.

He gets that government can’t provide services without taxes.  At the same time, he’s not about to support taxes carte blanche or write government a blank check. In the case of cities, as Silverman astutely points out, department heads as well as city managers and elected leaders come and go. It is how promises made to voters get tossed aside as time marches on

The real issue for Silverman is how revenue the city receives is spent.

Which brings us to his public pronouncement at Tuesday’s City Council meeting that’d he’d support a half cent sales tax increase to enhance public safety in Manteca.

This is a different course than what the city is proposing.

Staff is working on rolling out a larger sales tax — a full cent increase. And while they have expressed a willingness to restrict it, they are inclined not to do in the absolute most iron-tight manner which is for restrictions on how money raised can be spent to be a part of the official ballot measure that would activate a sales tax.

Instead, they prefer a spending plan much like Lathrop cobbled together that gives broad spending goals for how money is spent but is not locked in absolutely.

The specific spending plans incorporated into ballot language require two thirds vote. What the city seems likely to pursue requires a  simple majority.

Why Silverman’s proposal has more appeal is because of two other taxes — the existing Measure M half cent public safety tax passed by voters in 2006 and the countywide Measure K one cent sales tax for roads and transportation projects adopted and then extended by San Joaquin County voters.

Both required two-thirds support. Both did exactly what voters were promised they would do basically because elected officials and bureaucrats were not given a choice to spend the revenue generated in another manner.

Silverman also happens to serve as chairman of the existing Measure M Public Safety Tax Oversight Committee. It is a standing committee that makes sure Measure M sales tax receipts are spent according to voter directive.

When former City Manager Tim Ogden was looking for ways to save the city money by billing Manteca Unified School District for three school resource officers placed on campuses at Manteca, East Union and Sierra high schools he was stopped from doing so.

That’s because Measure M’s language made if clear the half cent sales tax was funding those positions. Stepping up safety at high school campuses was one of the selling points of the tax   measure. If it hadn’t been codified at the ballot box, the city would have been free to renege on the promise they made to voters. In other words, a measure requiring a two thirds approval eliminates the potential for bait and switch tactics —  get the measure approved for reasons that resonate with voters but then when the chance comes backtrack.

The current half cent sales tax raises $7 million or enough to fund 18 of the city’s 45 frontline firefighters and 18 of the city’s 72 police officer positions.

The expenditures are limited to frontline public safety positions and — for the first 30 spots — were split 50-50 between police and fire. There was also the stipulation the tax measure could not supplant annual general fund expenditures for public safety based on the year the measure was adopted. In 2006, that means roughly 62 cents of every dollar in general fund expenditures made in a given year still has to go to public safety as defined by police and fire services.

What Silverman would like to see this time around in a bid to enhance public safety and make people feel safer in Manteca is another half cent restricted sales tax. It would dictate at least half of the funds raised would go to public safety personnel. The overall tax, just like the original could not supplant existing general fund expenditures on a percentage basis every year.

The rest would go to public safety as defined by expenditures designed to make Manteca safer. Based on the current sales tax generation figures, that would be $4.5 million annually.

Silverman, for the purpose of 50 percent of the new revenue generated that $4.5 million annually represents, wants to see an expanded definition of public safety made that goes beyond just added police and fire personnel. He’d like to see it include vehicle replacement as well as be able to fund other issues that can improve public safety.

Those expenditures could include cameras in parks or other locations, traffic calming devices and intersection alterations including signals that can improve traffic safety, and efforts that reduce homeless crimes. It also could allow the city to replace public safety vehicles. Fire engines, as an example, on the low end can now cost in excess of $600,000 to replace.

 As things stand now there is not adequate funding for fire engine replacements in a manner that minimize breakdowns.

That can be addressed as well as a slew of other street, park, and public place improvements design to enhance people’s safety that the city can’t currently afford to do.

Based on current revenue trends and spending plans with Measure M, the additional half cent sales tax structured as Silverman suggests would mean nine additional firefighters and nine additional police officers could be hired.

The city needs nine additional firefighters to staff another engine company out of the Union Road station to make sure response times are optimum as south Manteca grows.

At the same time nine more police officers would give Manteca 81 officers for a city of 86,000 — if the tax were in place today — instead of 72.

Silverman doesn’t place a lot of stock in the 1 officer per 1,000 ratio. But he does know that Manteca is running tight. That means a lot of lower level crimes aren’t being addressed as thorough and promptly as possible are getting pushed to the wayside.

He is also concerned about the city’s ability to maintain response times especially when many nights there are only four or five officers on duty in a city of 86,000.

“They can have one or two calls (due to their nature) where all available officers are tied up,” Silverman said.

He also makes the case with public safety accounting for close to two thirds of spending, an additional targeted public safety tax covers a lot of shortfalls.

But perhaps his best point in making a case for City Council members to support such a tax and do so in a way that enhances the chances of it passing lies in the promise everyone who runs for office and gets elected makes that they will make public safety their No. 1 priority.

The targeted tax would show City Council members mean what they say.


 This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at