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Santa Clara City Council Approves 2017-18 Budget, Convention Center Contract

Small 2017-18 Budget Increase

To achieve some of its goals, the Santa Clara City Council approved increasing the 2017-18 budget by $623,000.

At its Tuesday night meeting, City Manager Rajeev Batra told the Council that to achieve its goal of increased public engagement–a goal set at the Council’s strategic planning session earlier this year–the City needs to spend $323,000 in the next year to fund newsletters, town halls and phone surveys and possibly hire a public relations consultant. According to the agenda report, the money will come from reallocating $120,000 earmarked for supplies and services, and using $200,000 of the general fund working capital reserve.

Another project that added to the budget was installing energy efficient windows at Mission Library as part of the renovation. Batra said the money will be transferred from capital projects reserve into this year’s budget to pay for the additional work. A third additional appropriation of $100,000 will come from the capital project reserves to provide closed captioning for City Council meetings. The City Attorney has advised the City that this is required by the ADA.

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Contract Approvals

Although the Santa Clara Convention and Visitor’s Bureau operation has come under review lately, the Council approved extending the $1.5 million contract with the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce to continue operating it for another year.

This will give the City Council’s consultant–Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc., which was signed to a $170,000 contract in April–time to assess how best to run the Convention Center, Batra said. The City needs to “choose a model that best fits its needs,” he said. The goal is to pick an operating model by the end of this fiscal year, he added.

Suds Jain, who sits on the Planning Commission, questioned whether the Bureau had been running in the black because the City has been subsidizing it with money from the general fund.

Jain said he would like to see the management of the Bureau go through a competitive process. Although Batra described the Chamber’s continued management of the Bureau as “status quo” for the next year, he also said the City will be monitoring Convention Center operations with regular status reports.

Other agreements up for renewal included five-year, $5.3 million agreement with Davey Tree Surgery Company for tree trimming for power line clearance, a $138,700 contract with Avasant for IT services and a three-year $1.02 million contract with InfoSend Inc. for bill printing and mailing services.

New Code Enforcement and Stadium Authority Auditor Positions

The Council also increased its $1.2 million contract with Metropolitan Planning Group by $175,000 for an additional code enforcement officer. Several Council Members have, in the past, identified code enforcement manpower as insufficient. The Council discussed whether this position is to be an employee or a contractor.

“We hear a lot from residents, ‘Why does my neighbors house look the way it does? Why is there garbage in the street?’” said Council Member Teresa O’Neill. “We have gotten a little lax on code enforcement in Santa Clara.”

Andrew Crabtree, director of community development, said code enforcement could be “more proactive,” but also said, “We have done a good job at responding to calls that come into our office.”

Council member Patricia Mahan said she would like to be able to track code enforcement’s responsiveness, adding that she does not favor using outside consultants for work that could be done by full-time City employees.

To comply with the California Grand Jury recommendation, the Santa Clara Stadium Authority also voted to separate the roles of Stadium Authority treasurer and auditor.

Council member Pat Kolstad made the one comment he voiced during the entire meeting to express how important the matter was, saying “the sooner we fix it the better.”

David’s Restaurant – Open for Business

There were also public comments concerning the fate of David’s Restaurant on Stars and Stripes Dr., claiming the long-time Santa Clara restaurateur is being unfairly forced out of their lease.

The City has refused to continue the restaurant’s lease, and owner David Ebrahimi has sued Santa Clara for breach of contract. The City recently filed its own suit against Ebrahimi. David’s is on the future site of Related’s City Place. The restaurant lease runs through this year, while the banquet facility lease runs through 2019 with two five-year options for renewal.

According to two of the speakers at Tuesday’s meeting, some City Council members have been misinforming the public, telling them that David’s is closed. In fact, the restaurant is open and in full operation from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.

In other business, the Council:

Approved rezoning a parcel of land at 3023 Homestead Road from single-family to planned development. The developer will restore the historic house on the property, and the new houses will be built in a similar farmhouse style.

Voted to split a 3205 Alfred St. into two parcels to allow for a pair of data centers.

Approved a single permit for S.E.S.’s four annual parades and festivals, rather than requiring a separate permit for each one. The Portuguese fraternal organization has been holding its festivals, which are public, for 120 years without running into permitting difficulties that it faced this year, according to S.E.S. president Henrietta Silveria.

Vice Mayor Dominic Caserta was absent. The next Council meeting will be held 7 p.m. Tuesday July 11 at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave.

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