Santa Clara’s Mayor said she would like the Council to introduce a bond measure that would fund the City’s ailing infrastructure.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor’s proposal came at this year’s State of the City address Thursday afternoon at the Central Park Library, 2635 Homestead Rd.
Road repairs, sewer mains, parks and the aging Swim Center are all areas that are in need of attention, Gillmor said. She suggested the Council appoint a committee to delve into the community’s interest in putting a bond to fund such endeavors on the 2020 ballot, saying it would be a “gift for future generations.”
This year’s State of the City was open to the public and held at four locations June 20-22. It consisted of four parts: Awards and Special Recognition, Gillmor’s address, City Manager Deanna Santana’s report on the City’s financial outlook and a Q-and-A session.
In addition to Gillmor and Santana, Council Members Debi Davis and Kathy Watanabe were also in attendance.
During her address, Gillmor admitted to being “scared” when the Council first appointed her in 2016, following former Mayor Jaime Matthews’ resignation.
“I didn’t know what we would find when we started turning over all the rocks at City Hall,” she said. “I am proud to say I am not scared anymore.”
Gillmor touted several policies she sees as victories for Santa Clara, most notably policies that put her at odds with others.
Among them, the City’s “dark money” ordinance, “taking charge” of stadium operations at Levi’s Stadium by putting in place more than 70 percent of the audit recommendations — part of her ongoing feud with ManCo — and seizing control of the Convention & Visitors’ Bureau from the Chamber of Commerce and reassigning it to Spectra.
“These reforms weren’t easy, but change never is,” she said.
She added that her opponents on these fronts were often “special interests with a stake in the status quo.”
In addition to what the Council has accomplished, Gillmor looked forward to other endeavors already in the works that she says will further improve the City.
Gillmor mentioned development projects such as City Place, “beefing up” neighborhood protections during NFL games, bringing back the Parade of Champions and revitalizing Santa Clara’s downtown as feathers in the City’s cap.
City’s Financial Outlook Improving
Santana said the City now has a “healthy financial outlook.” After resolving a $46.4 million deficit, Santana said the City is being diligent on continuing to reduce debt and adding to its reserves, which have increased to “unprecedented levels” since she took over as City Manager 18 months ago, jumping from $220 million to $289 million.
Although the 10 year forecast is slightly precarious — only a slim surplus in some years — Santana said as City employees continue to find cost-cutting measures, the City is also looking forward to new ways to generate money. Measures such as increases in the transit occupancy tax (TOT), user fees, a utility tax and business licenses could all bring more money into City coffers.
Having a good idea of the risk factors that could put the City in a dubious financial situation is a plus, Santana said. Changes in state of federal law, an economic downturn, California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) cost increases and the growing cost of labor could all threaten the City’s financial position, but being aware of those risks helps the City prepare for each, she added.
Santana said a few upcoming initiatives include an accessory dwelling unit incentive program for teachers and service workers and an increased focus on sustainability — a new Council priority this year.
Awards Honor Local Businesses, Citizens
At the Thursday event, Council gave awards to the Person of the Year and Business/Organization of the Year for the City at-large and District 6, represented by Council Member Debi Davis.
Gillmor said the awards were a way to balance all the negativity the Council regularly hears.
The business of the year for District 6 went to Saied Kompanian, the owner of the 7-11 on Saratoga and Pruneridge. Davis called Kompanian a “true community builder.”
Library Trustee Lee Broughman won Person of the Year for District 6.
The Organization of the Year went to Sociedade do Espirito Santo Corporation (SES). Gillmor called the organization the “heart and soul of Santa Clara.”
The Mayor named Dorothy Rosa Santa Claran of the Year. Gillmor said Rosa is “packed with energy” and “signifies what it means to be a Santa Claran.”
“It is so hard for me to take credit for who I am,” Rosa said. “I had the best teacher anybody in the world could have … [my mother] believed in doing good and helping people, and it rubbed off on me.”
To read more on the awardees from each event visit: http://santaclaraca.gov/residents/events/state-of-the-city-2019