Manteca visitors will pay 12 percent tax if voters approve plan on Nov. 6
DENNIS WYATT

Photo contributed
Manteca residents may soon consider a ballot measure to raise the tax rate on rooms at hotels and motels.

It is the $450,000 question: Should Manteca visitors staying in hotel rooms pay $450,000 more over the course of a year to provide day-to-day municipal services such as police, fire, parks and street maintenance, and more?

The City Council will decide whether to place such a measure on the Nov. 6 ballot for voter approval.

The tax is currently 9 percent and generates just over $1.2 million a year for city services. The proposed tax rate would be 12 percent.

At that level visitors to Manteca would still be paying a lower hotel tax than Manteca residents going to popular California destinations. Current hotel tax rates include 14 percent in San Francisco and Los Angeles, 15 percent in Anaheim (Disneyland), 13.5 percent in Reno, and 13 percent in South Lake Tahoe. Those room taxes are in addition to other hotel room taxes. Los Angeles, as an example, also slaps on a 1 to 1.5 percent tourism improvement district tax on top of the hotel tax depending upon where the hotel is located. Manteca has no such tax nor is it planning one.

At 12 percent the proposed Manteca hotel room tax would be on par with Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield, and tourist dependent locales such as Inyo County. It would equal the Las Vegas strip room tax of 12 percent but would be lower than the Las Vegas downtown room tax of 13 percent.

The tax increase — if passed — would go into place before the end of the year. That would mean the city would realize $201,650 for the balance of the fiscal year that started Monday. The city would generate an additional $450,000 for a full fiscal year starting July 1, 2019.

The big payoff would come after the Great Wolf Lodge that breaks ground next month is up and running in 2020.

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 that would bump Manteca’s annual room tax from Great Wolf up to $2,023,700.

That means once Great Wolf is open and if the 12 percent tax rate was in place between existing hotels and the indoor waterpark resort, Manteca would be able to count on almost $2.4 million a year to support day-to-day municipal services without taxing city residents.

That is a $1.2 million increase. That translates into the equivalent of nine public safety (police-fire) frontline positions in today’s dollars. Based on the fact public safety is locked into receiving 62 percent of the general fund based on the voter approved language in Measure M so the half cent public safety tax would not supplant general fund revenue for the two departments, police and fire would receive $740,000 of the $1.2 million increase in room tax.