Man­teca coun­cil moves to place room tax hike on Nov. 6 bal­lot

Manteca Bulletin - - Front Page - By DEN­NIS WYATT

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

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