Hyatt Regency Announces New General Manager

Dania Duke was recently appointed General Manager of Hyatt Regency Santa Clara. She succeeds Peter Rice who has been transferred to Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa. Duke was most recently General Manager of Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

A twenty-two year Hyatt Hotels and Resorts veteran, Duke began her career with the company as a management trainee. She has been affiliated with Hyatt properties in the Hawaiian Islands, Grand Cayman, British West Indies, and the cities of Indianapolis, Indiana; Lexington, Kentucky; Sarasota, Florida; Indian Wells, California; San Antonio, Texas; Washington D.C.; Palo Alto, California; and Palm Springs, California.

Over the years, Duke has been an active member of Chaine Des Rotisseurs and American Institute of Food and Wine. Her past community activities have included United Way, Habitat for Humanity, Share Our Strength, Special Olympics, Red Cross, Second Harvest Homeless Shelter, Rotary International and Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Duke’s distinguished career also includes such professional achievements as the 2000 Dannon International Hotelier Award, 2001 inaugural recipient of Hyatt Hotel’s Operations Achievement Award and 2003 Donald J. Pritzker Award for Operations Achievement within Hyatt Hotels.

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California Employers Paying Higher Unemployment Taxes

Federal Tax Hike Due to $10+ Billion State UI Debt
Since January 1, California employers have been paying higher taxes because the state has not repaid money it borrowed from the federal government to pay unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.

Unless Congress takes action (which it is not expected to do), the higher tax will remain in effect through 2012 and then increase each year the state has an outstanding loan balance. California’s UI Trust Fund has been insolvent since 2009.  By the end of 2012, the UI Fund deficit is projected to reach $10.7 billion, according to the California Employment Development Department (EDD).

Employers will lose 0.3% of their federal tax credit, partially offset by the end of a 0.2% surcharge in July 2011.  The 0.3% tax credit translates into approximately $21 per year for any employee who makes $7,000 or more in 2012. California employers pay UI taxes on the first $7,000 of wages per employee.

Statewide, the tax increase totals an estimated $289.8 million in 2012 and $615.7 million in 2013, according to the EDD October 2011 Unemployment Insurance Fund Forecast. This represents a loss of 0.6% of the tax credit in 2012, EDD reports.  The additional taxes paid will help offset California’s federal loan balance.

Federal Loan Outstanding Impacts EmployersState laws must meet certain federal requirements for employers to qualify for credits against the tax imposed under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA).  Due to California’s outstanding loan balances, the U.S. Department of Labor notified the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and EDD late last year that California is a “credit reduction state.”

Employers subject to unemployment tax laws of a credit reduction state must pay additional federal unemployment tax when filing a Form 940, according to the IRS website.

California has carried an outstanding loan balance since 2009. Therefore, the FUTA credit for California employers decreased from 5.4% to 5.1% on January 1, 2012, a 0.3% credit reduction, according to the EDD website.  Employers will use IRS Schedule A (Form 940), Part 2, to calculate the FUTA tax, EDD reports.

State UI Fund Insolvent
The unemployment rate in California has been consistently higher than the U.S. rate for some time. California’s UI Trust Fund has been insolvent since January 2009 due in part to the large numbers of unemployed Californians.  Also contributing to the UI fund’s insolvency has been legislation that imposed benefit increases in 2001 without including cost-saving reforms.

EDD has advised employers with questions on the FUTA credit reduction, Form 940 or Publication 15 (2011) (Circular E) Employer’s Tax Guide to contact the IRS at http://www.irs.gov.

Please contact the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce if you should have any additional questions on how these increased taxes may impact your business.

California’s Great America Set To Open 2012 Season

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California’s Great America theme park’s new season begins on March 25th. PEANUTS top dog Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Sally, and the rest of the gang return to the children’s areas of the Park. In addition, “PEANUTS Party in the Plaza” takes place in Celebration Plaza each Saturday and Sunday during weekend operation and daily during the summer. Guests can also experience “On the Mic! Karaoke” each Saturday and Sunday during weekend operation and daily during the summer (except for Tuesday and Wednesdays). Park guests can pick their favorite song in genres such as Pop, Rock, Country, and Classics.  
 

All this, plus family rides, thrill rides, Boomerang Bay water park, Planet Snoopy, live entertainment, dining, special events, and Halloween events including Halloween Haunt.  California’s Great America continues to have the most rides and most coasters in Northern California. The Park’s 2012 season runs thru October 28th.  For a complete operating calendar or more information, call 408.988.1776 or visit http://www.cagreatamerica.com

Chamber Votes Yes for Education

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The Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce & Convention-Visitors Bureau Board of Directors has voted to support both Measure A (parcel tax for Santa Clara Unified School District) and the West Valley-Mission Community College District Bond Measure.

“Education is a key component to the success of business in Santa Clara and the Silicon Valley.  As our state government continues to raid local dollars to balance the budget, the schools have to find a means to fill the growing funding gap,” said Steve Van Dorn, President & CEO of the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce & CVB.  “The Chamber understands our school districts need to maintain funding levels in order to provide the quality education that our employers demand.  As a result, Santa Clara Unified School District and the West Valley Mission Community College District are now in the position of asking tax payers to support their programs through these measures.”

Measure A is a local five-year school tax measure placed on the May 8, 2012 “Mail Ballot Only” election by the Santa Clara Unified School District’s Governing Board.  If approved, it will provide approximately $2.3 million per year in local education funding to maintain core academic programs in math, science and technology, keep school libraries open, attract and retain the most qualified teachers and support staff, provide up-to-date classroom technology, textbooks and instructional materials, and maintain manageable class sizes.

Due to continued uncertainty and reductions in educational funding, SCUSD has been forced to reduce the number of instructional days and teacher positions. Over the last ten years, SCUSD schools have lost $35 million in support from state and local property tax sources. Class sizes at all levels have increased, elementary music programs have been cut, support staff has been reduced, and summer school and other intervention programs have been eliminated. In addition, SCUSD has depleted nearly all of its reserve funds to deal with this ongoing budget situation. Measure A will provide stable local funding needed to help protect quality education in our neighborhood schools.  Without Measure A, SCUSD will decrease instructional time, eliminate many teaching positions and radically reduce library time.

The West Valley-Mission Community College District Board of Trustees has placed a local higher education funding measure on the June, 5 2012 ballot to ensure local students continue to have access to high quality, affordable higher education at West Valley and Mission Colleges.  The bond measure includes funds to update academic facilities and technology to prepare students for 21st century jobs/transfer to universities, upgrade healthcare, public safety and job-training facilities, and aging buildings for earthquake safety.  It would also provide funding for acquiring, constructing, repairing and equipping sites, buildings, classrooms and facilities in the West Valley-Mission Community College District.

“West Valley and Mission College face significant challenges with aging and deteriorating classrooms and buildings that need basic maintenance, repairs and technology updates” said Chancellor John E. Hendrickson. “A local bond measure will help repair and replace leaky roofs, heating, cooling, plumbing and electricity throughout the aging college campuses.”

The measure includes a Citizens’ Oversight Committee and independent annual audits to ensure all funds are being spent as promised with no money for administrator’s salaries.  The independent citizens’ oversight committee will monitor spending and ensure that all funds are being spent as promised.

For more information on Measure A, please call (619) 997-7467, and for more information on the West Valley-Mission Community College Bond Measure, please visit their website at http://www.wvm.edu.