City Council Review: City Budget and Dwindling Deficits

By Robert Haugh

In a study session, the City staff presented the Proposed Biennial Operating Budget for fiscal years (FY) 2019/20 and 2020/21.

Last year, the City Council changed from a one-year budget to a two-year budget — alternating between an operating and capital budget. This year’s budget focuses on our day-to-day operations.

The big news and good news is that projected deficits are dwindling.

Two years ago, the City faced a deficit of about $13.8 million in FY 2019/20 and $24.0 million in FY 2020/21.

But now the City staff has made some big progress. And deficit projections are almost gone. Kudos to the City Council and staff. Here’s a chart that shows the good news:

The other good news is that the budget is more transparent and easier to read. Finance Director Angela Kraetsch and her staff got a lot of kudos.  They spent hundreds of hours prepping the document.

Mayor Lisa Gillmor said the budget was “the best one I’ve ever seen.” Vice Mayor Patty Mahan said it was “the easiest budget to read.”

New Assistant Finance Director Kenn Lee got a lot of compliments for his work. So did other staffers Jensen Barna and Kendra Davis.

Measure N

The Council set up a Charter Review Committee to review city council districts for November 2022 elections. This was because of Measure N.  On Nov. 6, 2018, Measure N was approved by 70% of Santa Clara voters. It read:

Shall the City of Santa Clara engage the voters in a public process to draft a Charter Amendment ballot measure to elect its Council Members, other than the Mayor, by district?

The Committee will receive public input on whether Santa Clarans want to adopt the six-district plan currently in place or to examine if there is support for some other plan.

 City Clerk Hossam Haggag recommended that a vote be held in November 2020 because of greater voter participation.

The current plan was put in place by a court ruling that concluded Mission City voters are racist and new districts were needed to elect Asian candidates.

The Council unanimously decided to appoint 7 people to the Committee. They’ll be taking applications for the appointments and try and appoint one person for each district.

The Council decided to put the issue on the November 2020 ballot.

Other Stuff

  • The Council voted unanimously to approve Silicon Valley Power’s rules and regulations to require that new self-generation power units use only renewable generation and fuel sources. Bloom Energy brought a lot of employees to the meeting to object, but the Council wasn’t persuaded. Councilman Raj Chahal tried to give companies more time before the rules apply. But he lost.

  • City Attorney Brian Doyle announced that the City decided in closed session to initiate litigation. It’s not about David’s Restaurant. It’s a different case. But Doyle didn’t say what it’s about. Hmmm.


  1. Budget
    Dwindling deficits ?? I thought we had mounting deficits and an impending pension issue ? did it magically get fixed ?

    Measure N
    whomever is on this committee should have to sign a document stating they will not run for office for 5-8 years following the districts. There shouldn’t be any puppeteering to or drawing districts that favor agendas. Also this should have new representation not the same usual faces and usual suspects from Charter Review committees of the past etc.
    The district re-drawing should happen after the 2020 census and should adapt the current districts which reflect 2010 census data.

  2. Very little substance about the contents of the budget. At least it’s easier to read for some.

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