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Ceres short on dinner houses
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Ceres loses a vast amount of sales tax revenue each year to other cities which offers retailers we don't have.

Just go to restaurants and stores in Ceres or Modesto and see Ceres residents there and realize that's a serious tax bleed. I'm mostly talking about the absence of nicer chain restaurants and clothing stores, not to mention stores that sell expensive household appliances like flat screen TVs.

Many don't realize that for every dollar you spend on taxable goods in Ceres, you are taxed at a rate of 8.375 cents. That tax money is then divided upon among various governmental entities. One penny goes to the city of Ceres and one goes to Stanislaus County. A half-cent goes to bolster Ceres police and fire departments (Measure H). The rest goes into the state's general fund while a quarter cent goes to countywide transportation needs. A half-cent makes its way to the county's mental health obligations.

While it's true that more and more sales tax money is being siphoned off to the state, sales tax revenue still is an important chunk of change to cities who have police and fire salaries to pay. Thus, the more shopping you can do in Ceres, the more money your city gets to provide services for you.

While Ceres city officials would like to see retail choices increase and sales tax revenues go up, it's not going to be an overnight process. Frankly, there's not a lot of places to accommodate such big and new retail development. The next place to boom with development will be the Mitchell Road corridor near Highway 99, or the Southern Gateway as city officials have coined the term.

There is a pent-up demand that Ceres is lacking in dinner houses. In a recent survey on our website, we asked for an idea of what people would like to see in Ceres. By far the most desired chain was TGI Fridays (44 votes), followed by Olive Garden (28). Applebee's and Red Lobster were tied at 21 votes apiece. Next came Red Robin (20), Sizzler's (15), then Outback (12), and Mimi's Cafe and Johnny Carino's tied at 9. Also rans were in Chili's, Marie Callendar's, Peppermill, Elephant Bar and Sweet River Grill.

While I am not saying Ceres doesn't have some great places to eat - it does - people still want their hometown to have eateries that are advertised on national TV. And I'm not talking about steamy Carls Jr. commercials either.

It's too bad that 15 years when Turlock was planning for its grand commercial development at Monte Vista and 99 that Ceres wasn't doing the same with Mitchell Road. The elected city leadership, quite frankly, lacked the political ambition to start the planning process and Ceres suffers today from their lack of vision.

While today's economy still stinks and may take years to correct, a brighter day awaits us and all in Ceres should take an interest in the development of the Southern Gateway.

Today all we hear about is green lifestyles. City planners today seek to build walkable communities where they can reach what they want and need within miles on foot or bicycle. Valley cities like Ceres aren't quite there, but they keep talking about mixed uses and higher densities.

It's encouraging that the city has big plans, too, for downtown, for no other downtown on 99 has the freeway visibility as does Ceres. It would behoove the city and community to do what it can to attract at least one, maybe two, of the aforementioned restaurants to downtown. Then watch downtown take off like no Community Center could spur.

How do you feel? Let Jeff know at