By Robert Haugh
The City Council had a study session to discuss potential revenue measures for the November ballot.
Looks like they’re leaning toward a hotel or TOT tax. That’s a tax that’s added to hotel bills. Santa Clarans won’t pay it.
The polling shows that a TOT tax is supported by 70 percent of residents. City staff will bring back language for a measure next month. It’ll allow an increase in the TOT tax up to four percent.
Police Chief Pat Nikolai did a presentation about another survey. This one was about the police department. It was done over a year ago by My90, an independent group.
The group found that residents trust and are satisfied with our police department. 92.4 percent considered the Santa Clara Police Department “very trustworthy” or “somewhat trustworthy.” 87 percent reported that they were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied”.
We’re not surprised. But we wonder if the numbers would change a little these days because of police use of force problems in other cities.
The City Council passed the FY 2020/21 & FY 2021/22 Biennial Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Budget and FY 2020/21 Operating Budget Changes.
The vote was 5-0. (Vice Mayor Karen Hardy was excused from the meeting at the beginning. But she called in for the second half.)
The CIP is $705.3 million.
$496.5 million (70% of the CIP) funds projects for Silicon Valley Power.
$208.8 million (30% of the CIP) funds improvements to our parks, trails, libraries, transportation system, storm system and other City facilities.
There were a lot of fireworks on this item. And it’s not even July.
Councilman Raj Chahal did a long PowerPoint presentation that questioned City staff numbers about proposed garbage rates.
Chahal was on the losing end of a vote last year. He wanted residents to use split carts. But split carts were tried in a pilot program. They got a lot of negative comments from residents.
Last December, the City Council voted to keep a single cart.
But Chahal did an analysis yesterday about how split carts would be cheaper.
The problem was Chahal’s numbers were different from City staff’s numbers. City staff did not seem happy about that.
City Attorney Brian Doyle was not happy that Chahal was suggesting something that might be a breach of contract or create legal problems for the City.
The City Council decided to delay the decision. That way City staff can respond to Chahal’s numbers in writing.
The City Council will also look at delaying the implementation of rate increases because of the pandemic. That was suggested by Councilwoman Kathy Watanabe.
They’ll also look at creating a financial assistance program for Santa Clarans. It might be something like the one they did for our electric bills. That was suggested by Councilwoman Teresa O’Neill.
The issue will come back in a few months. They’ll have to hold another public hearing. Let’s hope all the fireworks are out by then.