Audit Shows Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce Owes the City About Half Million Dollars

By Robert Haugh

The TAP International financial audit presented to the Council entitled “Contract Close Out Review: Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.” This is the audit that uncovered the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce’s mismanagement and malfeasance. They lost their management contract in 2018 because of it.

Last night the Council and public learned that the Chamber may owe the City somewhere between $411,000 to $580,000. Wow. The Council decided to continue the discussion to a closed session. That’s reserved for discussions of possible litigation. Chamber Executive Director Nick Kaspar said he wants a chance to present the Chamber’s response in closed session. Let’s hope this isn’t all done behind closed doors. That would not be transparent.

Santa Clara Chamber and CVB

Now the Good News

The good news is that the Council got some good numbers from Spectra, the group that took over the management of the Convention Center from the Chamber.  Net operating income in the fourth quarter was $831,803. The total FY 2018/19 full-year operating income when the Chamber ran things totaled only $1.6 million. 

The Council decided to create a new Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) to market the Convention Center. They took over from the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). That group was eliminated because of poor performance. But the Council wasn’t sure how much of a hotel tax increase will fund the DMO. City staff suggested two percent. City staff will come back in January with more info before the Council decides.

The Council also asked that the City staff come back in 90 days with an update on the DMO executive director search.

Councilman Raj Chahal was absent. Vice Mayor Patty Mahan left the meeting early.

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