Suppose next week you got a city bill for $750 as the premium for having Lisa Gillmor as your mayor for the last six years. We suspect that most people would be outraged and express that outrage at the next city council meeting.
Since 2016, one way to evaluate Lisa Gillmor’s administration is to look at what her policies have cost residents. By that measure, she’s cost every man, woman and child living in Santa Clara a total of $750 ($125/year) in excessive spending and lost revenue.
From the time she was appointed Mayor in 2016 through 2021, Gillmor had absolute control of city policies; and the policies she put into action have cost money, regardless of whether that money is paid in the form of higher fees or reduced services.
Here’s your itemized bill.
Since 2016 Santa Clara’s employee costs have exploded. The City’s employee cost/resident is the highest in South Bay. Starting with the year the stadium opened as a baseline, Santa Clara’s employee-cost-per-resident has grown by $168 more than Sunnyvale’s. That’s $77 million over six years. Your share is $597.
This is ironic because many of the new, highly paid employees previously worked with fired City Manager Deanna Santana in Sunnyvale. (It’s unclear why they needed to be paid more to work in Santa Clara doing jobs that city employees were already doing for less.)
And speaking of Santana…Another item on your invoice is Santana’s severance pay. In her five years in Santa Clara, the escalation of city salaries in the top jobs is one of Santana’s most notable achievements. After she nearly precipitated a strike, the City nonetheless had to pay her a year’s compensation — $765,000 — to leave. Your share of that is $6.
Here are some more items on your bill:
- Lost stadium performance rent ($7.5 million): $58
- CVRA lawsuit cost ($6 million): $47
- Ballot measures to restore at-large council seats ($400k): $3
- Spin doctors for Gillmor’s PR ($400,000): $2
- Consultant Dan Fenton “to fix” the Convention Center ($800,000): $6
- Annual cost for trash separation (Other cities separate at the source) ($3.8 million): $29
For a family of four, that’s $500/year — $2,500 over five years. Think of what that could buy. How about a year of car insurance? Or a year’s electric bill? Or three months of groceries? Or maybe you would like four discount, round-trip airline tickets to Hawaii? Or 418 gallons of gas at six dollars a gallon?
Adding all of this up comes close to $100 million. That’s a third of the general fund operating budget for a year. That amount of money could have completely eliminated the budget deficit that the City has been facing for the last three years. The money could have been used to keep fees low, keep programs going or even give residents a rebate on electric bills.
But residents never got a choice. And that’s what elections are all about: Choice. Making choices about how we want to be governed and about public priorities. Lisa Gillmor has offered us six years to see what her priorities are. Do we really want four more years of it?