City’s Five Year Forecast Projects Increased Revenues with Rising Pension Costs

At the May 15, 2012 City Council Meeting Gary Ameling, Director of Finance for the City of Santa Clara presented the five year forecast of revenues and expenses for the City.  This is an annual presentation that up until recently has been very depressing, primarily due to the “Great Recession” that came to a technical end in the summer of 2009.  The City team pulls data from all the resources it can find to predict the future revenue and expenses for the City for the next five years.

The report was very thorough and well done.  But as you can imagine, there is some good news and some bad news.  First the good news:  All major revenue streams are projected to increase over the next five years.  The largest revenue contributor is sales tax.  This is projected to increase by 5.1% per year.  Next is property tax:  This is projected to increase 2% next year and 3% for the remaining 4 years.  Current charges for services comes in third and will continue to increase in revenue for the City since the goal is to bring the fees to a level that will cover total cost containment.  Rents and leases are also projected to increase in 2014-15 mainly due to the new stadium lease.  Contribution in lieu of taxes come from Silicon Valley Power and is dependant on the increased use of electricity.  This is also expected to increase over the coming years.  And the last major revenue stream is Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) which is projected to increase 3% per year.  (This tax is generated when guests stay in our Santa Clara hotels.)

Now for the bad news: Unfortunately, expenses for the City are also rising at even higher rates in many of the future years.  Also, over 80% of the 2012-13 General Fund budget will be spent on salaries and benefits. The remaining 20% is spent on materials, services and supplies.  

The City has tried to control the salaries and benefits costs through furloughs, not filling over 100 vacant positions and curtailing general salary increases. However, even with these programs in  place, expenditures will continue to rise primarily due to pension fund obligations.  

The City participates in the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS).  The costs for these obligations will have increased over 80% based on the last ten years and future five year outlook and will consume 16.1% of the general fund revenues.  Furthermore, this does not take into consideration the future unfunded liabilities which reached $223 million in 2010.

Taking all of these projections and variables into account, the City is projecting revenues to meet expenses in 2012-13 but not in 2013-14 and 2014-15.  2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 do see revenues meeting and/or exceeding expenses.

In order to be sure City revenues increase and expenses are controlled, the Chamber of Commerce will continue to work cooperatively with the City Council and future City Manager and staff in focusing on economic development and finding creative ways to control expenses.

Please let me know what you think we should do to improve the business climate in Santa Clara and control City costs.  I can be reached by email at or at 408-380-1231.


Chamber to Install Board of Directors at Pyramid Awards


The Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce & Convention-Visitors Bureau installs its 2012/2013 Board of Directors at the Pyramid Awards Dinner on June 14th at the Santa Clara Convention Center.  The annual event brings together business leaders from throughout Santa Clara and Silicon Valley.  

Board members to be installed at the dinner include the Executive Committee:  Doron Noyman (KeyPoint Credit Union), Chair; Christopher Citti (Citti’s Florist), Immediate Past Chair; Laurel Jones (Mission College), Chair Elect; Gary Nobile (Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate), Treasurer; David D.

Tobkin (CPA), Vice Chair; Elizabeth Mason (Intel), Vice Chair; Paul Dines (Edward Jones), Vice Chair; Barbara Ratcliffe (Biltmore Hotel), Vice Chair.  Other Directors to be installed are Miles Barber (Santa Clara Weekly); Chris L. Boyd (Kaiser Permanente); Ed Costa (Neto’s Sausage); John Elwood (Swinerton Builders); Robert Gunsalus (Santa Clara University); Brendan Harrington (Lexus of Stevens Creek); Thomas Irpan (Marvell); Richard Johnston (Graphic Packaging); Wil Lacro (United Way Silicon Valley); Phil Lindecker (Ecclectica Exposition Services); Lou Mariani, Jr. (Mariani’s Inn & Restaurant); Kimberly Nichols (Institute of Business & Technology); Joe Sweeney (Arcadia Graphix); Steve Weakland (San Francisco 49ers); and Elizabeth Williams (The Tech Museum).

Additionally, we will recognize Lidia Blair as Individual Member of the Year; Mission College as Business Member of the Year; John Waller as Ambassador of the Year, and both Krizzia Salas and Melvin Faulks will be presented with their Business Experience Day scholarships.  

The evening will conclude with a keynote address titled “Inside Election 2012” by San Jose State University professor Larry Gerston.

Invitations have been mailed.  To RSVP, please return your response card with your payment, or go to our website at and register.  Deadline for RSVPs is Friday, June 8.  No walk-in registrations will be accepted, so make your reservation today!

Chamber Encourages Yes on Measure C & Applauds Passing of Measure A


The Chamber encourages a “Yes” vote on Measure C to help ensure the success of our local economy by providing students with the quality education our workforce needs.  Make your vote count on June 5th.

Measure C is a bond measure that will ensure local students continue to have access to high quality, affordable higher education such as Mission College, part of the West Valley-Mission Community College District.

“Measure C will help our local community colleges update their academic facilities and technology, helping prepare their students to become productive and valuable assets for our valley’s employers,” said Van Dorn.  “Our high-tech based economy demands that our workforce be highly educated and skilled.  Mission College students are better prepared to join the workforce because of the programs offered on their campus.”

As for chamber supported Measure A, “we are pleased that the voters of Santa Clara support our schools and understand the importance of providing a quality education to our students” said Steve Van Dorn, President & CEO of the Santa Clara Chamber.  “With the passage of Measure A, SCUSD will be able to maintain core academic programs as well as attract and retain qualified educators, all keys to providing a good quality of life for our valley’s workforce.”

Business Community will miss the Leadership of City Manager Jennifer Sparacino

I have had the pleasure of working with Jennifer Sparacino for over 15 years, eight of those years as the President and CEO of the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce and Convention-Visitors Bureau.  Whenever there is an issue that impacts the business and tourism industry, Jennifer always reaches out to the Chamber for our input.  She understands how important the business community is to the vitality of the City of Santa Clara.  She not only understands that the business community needs to flourish, but the City’s infrastructure, parks, schools and City services must also be healthy and supported by the City.  This is what she has focused on since taking over as City Manager back in 1987.

Since 1987, the City of Santa Clara has grown in many ways.  The population has increased by almost 30,000 and the investment in infrastructure and other capital projects increased by $1.5 billion.  Jennifer has overseen hundreds of projects such as construction of the Central Park Library, Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park, the Don Von Raesfeld (DVR) 147 MW electric power plant, renovation and expansion of the Senior Center, establishment of the City’s award-winning Ethics & Values Program, the City’s selection by the National Civic League as an All-America City, and my favorite, the Mission City Ballroom expansion at the Santa Clara Convention Center.  Under her leadership, Santa Clara has also maintained the lowest combined utility rates in the nine Bay Area counties.  Most recently, she has worked with the Santa Clara Stadium Authority to begin construction of a new stadium for the 49ers football team, under unique and creative long term financing that was completed in March of this year.

In my many visits to City Council meetings, Jennifer would always be sure to thank her hard working City staff for any completed project when presented to the Council and public.  Perhaps that is why she attributes her career accomplishments to the hard work of the City departments at every level. “Santa Clara has an outstanding executive team, both current and former, and I have been especially proud to have served with these professionals.  The City has dedicated employees in every department and I have been privileged to work with all of them.”    

In 2004, Jennifer received the most prestigious award in her professional field for her career achievements.  The “Award for Career Excellence in Honor of Mark E. Keane” was presented at the National Conference of ICMA, the International City/County Management Association.  In accepting the award, Jennifer said that this was “for the City of Santa Clara, and a reflection of this great community.  I am fortunate to work with an excellent Mayor and City Council, both the current and former Mayors and Council Members.”

As the search begins for our next City Manager, the business community and citizens of Santa Clara know that finding a leader like Jennifer Sparacino will be very difficult, but imperative, if we want to continue to see the City of Santa Clara grow and prosper.  

Thank you Jennifer Sparacino for all you have done to lead our great City and making it a much better place under your watch.      

Santa Clara Stadium Could Host Historic Super Bowl 50


Super Bowl 50 Logo

At the historic San Francisco 49ers stadium groundbreaking on April 19th, owner Jed York once again reaffirmed the team’s plans to bid on Super Bowl 50 or 51. If the effort succeeds, it would mean an economic boom to the city of Santa Clara filling local hotels, restaurants, and other businesses.

The new $1.2 billion stadium’s groundbreaking took place on a sun-filled afternoon with team representatives, local officials, and invited guests gathered together to celebrate. 49ers owner Jed York noted the Santa Clara stadium would be the first football-only stadium built in California in 50 years. Red and gold confetti fell from the air as the York family and city leaders dug shovels into the 49ers logo located on the ceremonial field created for the event. City leaders involved in the groundbreaking included Mayor Jamie Matthews and council members Lisa Gillmor, Pat Kolstad, Patricia Mahan, and Kevin Moore.

In addition to an entire football field, the star-studded event included local flavor with performances by Wilcox High School cheerleaders, the Santa Clara Vanguard, and an appearance by Miss Santa Clara, Caitlin Hoemmelmeyer. The 68,500 seat stadium is scheduled to open in August, 2014.

Chamber Announces New Program to Build a Stronger Local Economy


The Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce & Convention-Visitors Bureau has always prided itself in providing its more than 525 members with value-added, bottom-line oriented services and programs designed to help their businesses thrive.  Effective today, it is introducing a new member advantage –  Save Local Now, which provides Chamber members access to online technologies and mobile apps that make it easier for them to promote their businesses.  

Save Local Now is unlike any other online savings site.  There are no minimum requirements, no delays in uploading or changing offers or promotions and, most importantly, there are no fees for Chamber members.  All member businesses will be automatically uploaded onto the Save Local Now site.  Those that choose to offer a discount or special promotion may upload it themselves and change it as frequently as they wish.

“We’re very excited to be able to add this benefit at no charge to our members,” said Steve Van Dorn, President & CEO of the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce & Convention-Visitors Bureau.  “The meteoric rise in the number of consumers using phone apps to access local discounts makes it crucial that retailers have access to the latest mobile technology.  The Chamber is dedicated to continually adding value to its membership, and we feel this newest benefit provides yet another reason for local businesses to either join the Chamber or renew their memberships.”

Unlike other online savings sites, Save Local Now provides total control to the merchants.  Members receive a code through which they can access their directory listing and change their offers or promotions without needing to wait for a third-party administrator.  The offers are immediately made available through the site, as well as on the pertinent mobile apps.

“In this tough economy, Chambers are looking for creative ways to market themselves and build their membership base,” said Adam Kimball, national sales director for Save Local Now.  “That’s why we created our program exclusively for Chambers to provide them with a powerful marketing tool.  This program benefits everyone.  The Santa Clara Chamber now has a new tool for attracting and retaining members.   The business members have access to marketing technologies they might not otherwise be able to afford but which are necessary to keep them competitive.  And consumers have a convenient source for searching local businesses and promotions.”

The official launch of the Santa Clara Save Local Now program will be in July.  However, we will be contacting members to discuss this new benefit over the next few weeks.  Watch for more information to come through email and mail.  And for a preview of the program, please visit