A good friend and former City employee told me a few years ago, “Residents don’t care about anything as long as the power stays on, the garbage is picked up and the streetlights work.”
In most cases, I would agree. In this case, we could see the end to all three.
Santa Clara is not a big city. It still has that wonderful sense of community, clubs, non-profits, and short of a pandemic, Citywide events.
However, while no one was watching the store, or in this case the City and Council, the natural element of greed has taken root. Salaries and benefits have risen like fresh bread in a hot oven.
It is not just one department like the City Manager’s office where the payroll and benefits for the manager and her three assistants exceed $2 million.
Police, Fire and City workers have been munching at the benefits table and helping themselves via the endorsement of the Mayor and Council.
This kind of reminds you of a runaway train with no engineer while the employees are in the club car eating filet and having drinks.
You might think during a pandemic like COVID, the City would be cinching up its budget and tightening its belt on benefits. Think again.
Santa Clara has given away the store and has no inventory left. Only a few months ago, (prior to elections), Santa Clara was boasting the City would end the year with a million-dollar surplus. Someone must have been smoking some of that funny stuff.
The latest projections of deficit growth are gravity defying. Santa Clara is now scheduled for a $42 million loss.
How do you miss the mark by a mile? You misrepresent.
Frankly folks, foolish and fictitious facts are a flagrant fantasy and a felonious felony when your city fortune is frittered.
The new Council must now act and hopefully clean up this mess. Failing to end the gravy train will produce the inevitable. Salaries and benefits are draining Santa Clara, which could become like San Bernardino, Stockton or Vallejo causing them to declare bankruptcy.
You don’t hear a lot about the big and beautiful benefit bonuses being backed by the union brass. But they have lobbied and received generous payouts for employees.
Santa Clara employees are good people. They are well paid. They deserve a good pension and insurance.
There is only one caveat. The MONEY must be there to meet the obligations. If there is no money, more goodies and raises are not a reality. Salary and benefit reduction cuts are.
The City Manager’s primary job is to balance the budget. Failing to do so suggests retirement.
If the power begins to flicker or goes out, this may be an idea whose time has come.