It’s time Santa Clara did another audit.
No, not the San Francisco 49ers or the Chamber of Commerce and Convention Center.
It’s time we have an independent committee be directed to obtain an independent audit of our City finances and performance.
You have read about the Property Tax Appeals Board decision that favored a return of funds to the San Francisco 49ers from several public entities.
It is estimated that Santa Clara will owe the 49ers $2.9 million in property tax refunds.
When will this be paid? Follow the shell game, not likely soon.*
What we have learned: owning money and paying money are two different stories.
Our City has lost the California Voting Rights Act lawsuit for about $3.1 million. Because our City is appealing, this money won’t be paid out for years. However, the chances of not paying it out is about the same as a snowball in a hot place.
Then there was the Measure J audit in 2016 that couldn’t find all the money laundering and corruption alleged by the Mayor. However, it was found that the City owed the 49ers a million dollars for overbilling a year on parking. The City has yet to pay this.
There are some big items, along with incidentals, that really raise practical questions.
In the Council’s haste to hang the Chamber of Commerce they have intentionally failed to pay the Chamber management fees for the Convention Center. Reviewing the Council minutes and approvals, and confirming with the Chamber, the City owes the Chamber over $150,000.
Makes you wonder if our City will stiff Spectra, the City’s new Convention Center Managers, in the same manner?
By the way, with all the accusations, expense, audits and time invested, nothing illegal, criminal or damaging was ever found against the Chamber.
Now, we come to the Tourism Improvement District formed decades ago by the Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with six hotels in our entertainment district.
Our hotels have voluntarily paid a dollar per night per visitor into the TID specifically to promote tourism to Santa Clara. This money was, and is, hotel money which was managed by the Convention and Visitors Bureau of the Chamber until they were given notice of termination in July 2018.
When the City terminated the Chamber, they confiscated over a million of TID funds. This is not tax money and it is not the City’s money. The TID is managed by our hotels with their own board of directors and the City has not returned or released these funds back to the TID board.
Are you beginning to see why we need an audit of our City?
We now have no one directly promoting our city for tourism, conventions, meetings or entertainment. Yet we have one of the greatest visitor packages in the Country offering first class facilities for every organization.
This Mayor and Council majority think nothing of paying a consultant almost $200,000 of our tax money but impound designated funds not belonging to them?
Voters, how did we get in this mess?
It is serious audit time.
*Clarification: Miles Barber asked when the City of Santa Clara would pay back about $2.9 in 49ers’ overpaid property taxes? They actually don’t have a choice; the $2.9 million will be taken out of the current year’s property taxes the City receives.
Miles Barber was president of the Chamber board in 1984. He has continued to serve on the board periodically over the years.