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Convention Center Gets Temporary Food Management Before Council Break

The food service arm of the company managing the Convention Center will also take over concessions until a permanent replacement can be found.

In its last meeting before a month-long hiatus, the City Council approved allowing Ovations Food to take over for Aramark — the foodservice provider for the past 11 years — after the company and the City could not agree to the terms for continuing service.

Ovations Foods is the food service division of Philadelphia-based Spectra Venue Management, the company that replaced the Chamber of Commerce after the Council was dissatisfied with its management. Once Spectra took over, new contracts became necessary, and since an agreement could not be reached with Aramark, it notified the City it would cease food service July 26.


Tom McDonnell, Vice President of Business for Spectra, said he expects the transition to be “smooth.”

“This is why our company is set up this way,” he said.

The interim agreement will see Ovations Food managing food service through the end of the year with a contract similar to the one Aramark had — 4.5 percent of gross revenue up to $3 million — only without performance incentives.

Although Ovations Food will need roughly $134,000 for “startup expenses,” that money is already budgeted. While a new general manager and head chef will come on board, the City’s worker retention ordinance ensures the food service workers retain their jobs.

Tawna Vargo, with local union Unite Here and a waitress at the Hotel De Anza, said Local 19 is “confident” the transition will not “disrupt job security.”

“Because of you,” she told the Council. “Hundreds of food service workers will be able to keep their jobs as food service providers change.”

The Council approved the interim contract unanimously.


Council Approves Phase One of Municipal Fee Schedule

One of the only other orders of business in a nearly empty Council Chambers was the approval of Phase One of the municipal fee schedule.

The City has been striving toward more cost recovery on the fees it collects for the services it provides. This is the first in a three-phase fee schedule rollout to be completed by year’s end. Phase one includes, among other things, fees for copies, fees in the Clerk’s Office and electric fees.

Instead of increasing each fee by its maximum 25 percent — as it has done in the past — Michelle Eglesia, Municipal Services Division Manager, said the City is looking into increasing some fees while lowering others.

The Council had previously expressed interest in keeping fees low for services that impact “quality of life” where full cost recovery is hardly ever attained by cities, such as parks and recreation and libraries.

The new fees for Phase One of the schedule go into effect Aug. 1. Phase One will see 28 new fees but the deletion of 56 “obsolete” fees, 44 of which were in the fire department.

Phase One results in a reduction of the General Fund Subsidy of $0.5 million. Nearly $0.25 million of the General Fund reduction will be a direct result of a small increase in the technology fee — from 2 percent to 3.37 percent. The Council will hold a study session for Phase Two of the schedule Aug. 26.


Consent Calendar Approvals

The Council also approved new job descriptions for the Assistant Fire Chief (annual salary range between $247,356 and $320,124) and Senior Management Analyst (annual salary range between $118,483 and $153,344) and approved some spending via the consent calendar:

  • A $1.45 million contract with Preston Pipelines, Inc. for the Lafayette Street emergency sanitary sewer project.
  • A 3-year, $405,660 contract with HydroScience Engineers for “hydraulic model calibration and support services”
  • An additional $2.23 million by way of a change order on the Raymond G. Gamma Dog Park, bringing the total to $4.24 million

The Council will meet again Tuesday, Aug. 20 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.


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