City Council Meeting Recap
By Robert Haugh
With tension overflowing in recent weeks between the City and the 49ers, we expected major fireworks at last night’s council meeting like when Rowdy Roddy Piper blasted Superfly Jimmy Snuka over the head with a coconut. We were disappointed and many questions were left unanswered regarding Levi’s Stadium operations.
Stadium Financial Report
Several council members raised questions about the financial report for Levi’s Stadium, specifically the major increase in public safety costs at NFL events. This issue seems to be getting a lot of scrutiny. It’s clear that the majority of the city council doesn’t trust the team even on the smallest issues. For example, overtime payments to non-public safety city employees won’t be paid until the 49ers send a check for the amount. Police officers were paid overtime by the city for the January 1 game, but the city still hasn’t received a check from the team. We tip our hat to Hosam Haggag for pointing this out at the meeting after reading the finance report.
Acting Finance Director Angela Kraetsch has provided substantial details on the stadium budget that was never presented previously. She’s done it in a brief period of time. It’s impressive. But Interim City Manager Rajeev Batra still cannot answer questions about several items. It’s not impressive.
ManCo (i.e. the 49ers) once again had no representative attending the meeting and for the second straight week. One of their main council supporters was also absent. Councilwoman Patricia Mahan was on vacation this week. Another strong team supporter Vice Mayor Dominic Caserta skipped last week. Maybe they don’t want to show up if they don’t have all their council supporters in attendance.
The initial review of the City’s operating budget took place. One of the largest items in the budget is pension liability which is a challenge for all cities in California.
There’s a modest deficit projected for next year ($8 million) that grows substantially over five years ($38 million) without new revenue.
Councilwoman Teresa O’Neill said that former City manager Julio Fuentes told her that Santa Clara could “grow our way out” of the deficits with new developments. Pension and public financial expert John Bartel who made a great presentation to the council said that was not possible. No City in California would make such a claim or plan, he said. The bottom line: Santa Clara must find new long-term revenue sources for core City services. Councilwoman Debi Davis wants to look at the transient occupancy tax (ToT) as a possibility for new revenue.
The next Council meeting on June 6 will see a loaded agenda. Councilwoman Kathy Watanabe wants a report about why the U2 concert was managed so poorly, and what the council should do about the curfew and noise.