Martinez releases ‘Business Confidence Survey’ results

MARTINEZ, Calif. ­­– Business owners remain optimistic about the city’s commerce climate, as shown by the second Business Confidence Survey, Economic Development Coordinator Zach Seal said.

Results have been tabulated for the survey, taken in April, and when compared to a similar survey in November 2017, company owners have approximately the same feelings about the city’s business climate.

Any percentage greater than 50 denotes optimism, Seal said. In November 2017, the first survey showed 59 percent of business owners are confident, while the April survey showed a 2.7 percent drop, to 57.4 percent.

Those taking the survey answered multiple choice questions about how business owners feel about their own companies as well as the local, state and national economies during the next 12 months.

Nearly half expected their sales to increase, while 41 percent expected them to stay the same. Only 10 percent indicated they expected lower sales.

Nearly the same numbers came in for those who expected better profits in the next 12 months, at 48 percent. Another 39 percent thought their sales would remain the same, and 13 percent expected lower profits.

But 75 percent expected employment to stay the same, with 20 percent thinking it would increase and 5 percent expecting a decline.

Slightly more people expected Martinez’s own business conditions to improve, but nearly as many suggested the city is in a plateau. About 10 percent expected conditions to worsen.

A little more than 40 percent were optimistic about California’s business climate. More than 30 percent expected the state’s business conditions to stay the same and slightly fewer were pessimistic about business conditions statewide.

The national business climate should get better in the next 12 months, said 40 percent of respondents. Another 31 percent expected no change, and 29 percent anticipate worse conditions.

The survey also asked participants to weigh in on which economic strategy is the most important one for Martinez to pursue.

Infrastructure improvements topped the list, with 28 percent suggesting that approach. A mix of other suggestions were offered by 21 percent. They urged addressing the homeless situation, making the downtown shopping district cleaner and improving the condition of commercial buildings.

Marketing and branding were favored by 13 percent. Assistance for women-owned, minority-owned and small businesses was important to 13 percent.

Another 12 percent wanted the city to offer financial business incentives, and 7 percent said the city should create more housing for employees.

Support of workforce training and development was suggested by 3 percent, and another 3 percent wanted the city to provide business loans.

Seal released the results of two other reports Monday.

The economic snapshot tracks the city’s housing, building employment, sales tax and Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT), charges paid by hotel guests.

Seal said those economic indexes increased by an average of 9.2 percent during the past 12 months, “indicating a growing Martinez economy.”

Compared to 2010, building in 2017 was up 331.1 percent; second was TOT, up 167.3 percent; housing was up 74.8 percent; sales tax revenues were up 64 percent; and employment was up 15.2 percent.

Each of those components also improved in 2017 compared to the previous year, the report shows.

The economic performance has improved by more than 130 percent from January to March 2010, the report said. Average housing prices were up to $662,000 by the final quarter of 2017, with properties staying on the market an average of 33 days.

The city issued 1,675 building permits with a total valuation of more than $7.1 million in 2017, the report said. In addition, employment was at its highest level since tracking began in 2010, it said.

Sales tax revenue reached more than $1.2 million in October through December of 2017, wiand the year’s total revenue reached more than $4.8 million., the highest grossing year since 2010.

TOT revenue was more than $181,000 in the last quarter of 2017, making it the highest-grossing quarter since 2010.

Also included in the economic reports is Martinez’s the Sales Tax Update report covers Martinez’s sales tax receipts and top-25 sales tax generators for January through March.

It showed that an estimated $3.48 million would be generated in Martinez during the past fiscal year under the Measure D half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2016. That money exclusively is spent on repairing and maintaining Martinez’s local roads.

But other sales tax revenues were 19.3 percent lower in the first quarter of 2018 than in the previous year during the same months. If a taxpayer refund that pulled down returns and a few other “aberrations” are removed, the report said, actual sales were up slightly.

Missing payments blamed on the state’s transition to a new software system affected some of the report’s statistics, and those allocations will be disbursed in the future, the report said.

Building and construction surpassed $200,000 in the first quarter of 2017, but were little more than $160,000 in 2018. General consumer goods produced fore than $160,000 in sales taxes in the first quarter of 2017, and did not reach that mark this year.

County and state pools also were above $160,000 in 2017’s first quarter and below that in 2018.

Restaurants and hotels showed a much smaller decline this year, falling just shy of $120,000 in revenue fir the first quarter. Last year, the hospitality industries produced a little more than $120,000 in sales tax. Similar numbers were reported by business and industry.

Food and drugs exceeded $80,000 in the first quarter of 2017 and were about $80,000 the first quarter of this year.

However, automobiles and transportation bucked the trend, with this year’s first quarter nearly approaching $60,000 in sales tax, somewhat more than revenues producted during the first quarter of 2017.

The report compared the four quarters of Fiscal Year 2016-17 to Fiscal Year 2017-18, noting that point of sales produced $4,249,043 last year, but $4,172,518 this year.

The county pool produced $777,766 last year and $708,667 this year. The state pool produced $3,370 last year and $1,407 this year. Net receipts were $4,904,433 last year and $4,760,528 this year.

On the other hand, Measure D revenues were just beginning to be reported in 2017, with just $730 coming in the entire Fiscal Year 2016-17. By the end of the next fiscal year, June 30, the special tax had produced $3,476,582 for Martinez road repairs.

The report lists the top 25 sales tax producers alphabetically by name rather than by tax revenues.

Those companies are ABC Supply, Abel West Auto Center, Ace Truckbox Center, Alhambra Chevron, Alhambra Shell, Build Tek, Canyon Sports, Chevron, Colonial Energy, Copart, Cresco Equpment Rentals, CVS pharmacy, Eco Services Operations, Glaser and Associates, Golden Gate Petroleum, Home Depot, Les Schwab Tire Center, Lucky Supermarket, the Main Jail Commissary, McDonald’s, Nob Hill Foods, Rite Aid, Safeway, Siemens Medical Solutions and Walmart.

Sales tax also has been affected by a June 21, 2018, Supreme Court ruling that requires out-of-state online retailers to collect sales taxes on sales to in-state residents, but some online retailers already collect ane remit state and local taxes, including two of the three companies involved in the Supre Court case, the report said.

California Department of Taxes and Fees Administration is examining the court ruling to determine the next steps it must take.

Also released is an update of the Economic Development Action Plan, which Seal said is a document a plan that is built on affected citizens’ comments, regional and local market data and is focused “on strategic doing rather than planning.”

More than 80b business owners, worksite managers, property owners and real estate brokers have been interviewed about the needs of the city’s business community, and additional comments are welcome, especially about economic priorities and how the city should allocate resources.

A draft of the Economic Development Action Plan will be presented to the Martinez City Council once it is complete. However, those who want to offer comments may email Seal at

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