VISITORS MAY FUND MORE SERVICES
Manteca council moves to place room tax hike on Nov. 6 ballot
Manteca residents could secure another $1.8 million worth of municipal services annually starting in 2020 by voting to support a measure being advanced by the City Council to increase the motel room tax from 9 to 12 percent.
That means hotel guests staying in Manteca that now pay a $9 a night tax on a $100 room would pay a $12 a night
tax for the same room starting in April 2019 if voters embrace the measure being placed on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Mayor Steve DeBrum noted it is a tax that doesn’t ding the pocketbook of city residents — save for rare occasions they may book a room at a local hotel — yet provides them with a significant jump in municipal services.
DeBrum said that it is imperative that an effort be made to educate voters that the tax will not cost them but that it will benefit them.
“People when they see the word ‘tax’ tend to want to vote no,” DeBrum said.
Councilman Mike Morowit goes one step further noting a “yes” vote on the room tax increase would provide a $1.1 million annual windfall to Manteca’s public safety efforts in the initial full year of collection.
That’s because the Measure M public safety tax when it was approved had language guaranteeing the combined general fund expenditures in any given year based on revenue collected that year would not drop below 62 percent. The language was included so Measure M would never be used to supplant general fund support of public safety costs that had historically hoovered around the 62 percent level for years.
Measure M funds were restricted to the hiring of personnel.
Morowit, who served on the citizens’ oversight committee to assure the voters’ will is carried out after passage of Measure M, said the room tax increase “would provide a major boost in Manteca’s public safety efforts without raising taxes on residents.”
Councilman Richard Silverman noted increasing the room tax doesn’t increase the burden on local taxpayers and it doesn’t hurt business.
Silverman said when he travels to places such as San Diego he pays a room tax that is higher than the proposed 12 percent room tax would be in Manteca.
What is at stake is significant. Manteca expects to receive $1,210,000 in room taxes during the fiscal year starting July 1. If a 12 percent room tax were in place that amount would be $1,503,333.
After the first full year of Great Wolf being open, under a 25-year room tax split that was negotiated the city would receive $581,700. Given that any increase up to the capped 12 percent would go 100 percent to Manteca, having the 12 percent rate in place when Great Wolf opens would bump Manteca’s annual room tax from Great Wolf to $2,023,700.
That means if Great Wolf were open today and the 12 percent tax rate was in place between existing hotels and the indoor waterpark resort, Manteca would have been able to count on almost $2.4 million in additional funding in the upcoming fiscal year.
The impact measured by what the city would be capable of doing is significant. Given that 62 percent of the general fund goes to public safety that means $1.4 million more a year would flow into the police and fire budgets based on the initial Great Wolf annual room tax projections combined with the 3 cents on a dollar increase. Given salary and benefits account for more than 80 percent of general fund expenditures, around $1.1 million would be able to go toward staffing. Realizing there are other needs besides frontline firefighters and sworn police officers in each department, if you assume $800,000 of that goes to first responders position the city could possibly hire up to six more police officers and/or freighters.
Hotels such as the Hampton Inn & Suites are key players in helping to fund Manteca municipal services. Bulletin photo