- Budget chaos
- TONIGHT – Planning Commission, May 24, 6:45 p.m.
- RECAP – City Council – May 17 and May 19, 5:30 p.m.
Early ballot returns for the June 7 primary appear to be light without highly contested offices or measures. FUHSD’s Measure G, found at the very end of the ballot, was endorsed by the Mercury News: Editorial: Approve Fremont Union High School District’s Measure G $275 million bond measure is primarily designed to modernize aging school facilities With such light turnout, every vote counts. In additional news, FUHSD announced that Graham Clark, Deputy Superintendent will replace retiring Superintendent Polly Bove.
City staff departures continue unabated, even at the senior manager level. Last week, Joanne Magrini, Director of Parks and Recreation accepted a similar position with the city of San Mateo, after only two years in Cupertino with three city managers during that time. Staffing in general is a major concern with 43 separations in FY21 vs. 20 separations in FY20, an indicator of an increasingly unpleasant–if not hostile–work environment. Recruitment is taking longer, so the level of service to residents and the public stands at risk.
The Finance Department now faces an impossible challenge. The budget deadline of June 30,2022 continues to loom. Producing the final 1000+ page budget requires herculean effort in the best of circumstances, but the department is now short-staffed with the loss of the Finance Manager. Council continues to make last-minute changes, instead of finalizing the budgets, then making adjustments mid-year, prompting this public comment of concern. At the last minute, over the objections of Councilmember Hung Wei, council added two new positions solely intended to benefit councilmembers, NOT residents: (1) administrative support for councilmembers (previous city councils did their own work), and (2) a poorly articulated legislative aide, community outreach / grant writer position. Adding FTEs has a major impact on the budget. There are also no firm job descriptions or salary ranges.
Progress on the state-required Housing Element remains unclear. A community meeting was held on Monday, May 23, at 6:30 p.m. Without any clearly articulated reason, Planning Commission Chair Steven Scharf re-agendized the same site selection meeting already held on April 26. The documents in attachment are not revised and the Chair was aware of the lack of new materials for discussion. It is not clear why the Chair would choose to waste staff time and public resources on a matter already discussed a month ago.
UPCOMING – PLANNING COMMISSION: Tues., May 24, 2022, 6:45 p.m. Regular session
There are only two items on the agenda for this meeting, both of questionable value.
Item #1: The fourth study session on the Housing Element Update focusing on the establishment of a housing sites selection inventory and strategies to promote the development of new housing. The materials are the same as the April 26 meeting when some commissioners were either absent or unengaged. The staff report provides no stated reason for why this item is being heard a second time without any updated materials.
Item #2: Consider the Reality of Current and Future Mass Transit in Silicon Valley, GHG, Equity, and Fairness for Families of All Income Levels. This item consists entirely of a poorly researched opinion presentation with dubious and incomplete source references submitted by Chair Steven Scharf with no staff input.
RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Tues., May 17, 2022, 6 :45 p.m.; Study session 5:30 (in-person/Zoom) and Thurs, May 19, 2022, 5:30 (Zoom), Special meeting
The council meeting spanned two sessions, with the first going from 5:30 to midnight (the council chamber was empty), and the second on Zoom from 5:30 to almost 11:00 for a total of over 11 and a half hours.
Tues., May 17, 2022, 6 :45 p.m.; Study session 5:30
The 5:30 Study Session was Consider the proposed Fiscal Year 2022-2023 City Work Program. From previous sessions from March 8 to May 3, staff came back with a consolidated list of 38 projects–still an unmanageable list. Council could not reach a consensus during the study session, so paused to start the regular meeting, then resumed discussion during the regular meeting. Council, particularly Mayor Paul, is still expressing excuses to delay critical safety and quality of life upgrades to city hall. Finally, council approved the item 5-0 in the regular meeting so staff can do a consolidated budget.
Item #40 is to consider a Study Session on the Capital Improvements Program (CIP,) including review of the five-year CIP (Fiscal Year (FY) 22-27) and new proposed projects for FY 22-23. The CIP pipeline is problematic. There are 40 currently approved projects, many under contract which need to be managed to completion. Staff proposed minimal additions for FY 22-23, which included seismic retrofit / new city hall / civic center parking. Council rehashed the items, still balking at the need for civic center improvements. Then they asked for another reprioritization, and expressed intent to have the Planning Commission and council approve final plans. Council finally approved 5-0 so staff can proceed with a consolidated budget.
Item #41: Initial Study Session on Fiscal Year (FY) 2022-23 Proposed Budget. This started late, so there was only time for the staff presentation and public comment before the item was deferred to the May 19 meeting.
Thurs., May 19, 2022, Special session 5:30 p.m.
The agenda for this meeting was published the day after the regular council meeting. The 14 postponed Consent Calender items took over an hour, due to Councilmember Kitty Moore questioning a multi-year contract for turf management at Blackberry Farm golf course.
Item #15: Initial Study Session on Fiscal Year (FY) 2022-23 Proposed Budget (Continued from May 17, 2022). Council discussion lacked substance and instead consisted of complaints from the mayor about the lack of councilmember compensation and, and of grievances from councilmembers about a lack of budgeting for assistance from staff for councilmember duties. The council then opted to add the two additional full-time employee equivalent positions, without public review and input. Council approved 4-1, with Wei voting no.
Item #16: Recommendation from the Parks and Recreation Commission to approve funds in the amount of $96,460.46 for the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 Community Funding Grant Program and approval of final funding amounts for the Community Funding Program, to be included in the Recommended Budget for Fiscal Year 2022-2023 (Continued from May 17, 2022). Council postponed this item to the June 7 meeting.
Item #17: Consider the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022-23 Fee Schedule Update (Continued from May 17, 2022). There was limited discussion on this item, but there are potential impacts to the nonprofits in the city. Council approved 5-0.
Item #18: Consideration of Municipal Code amendments to the Cupertino Municipal Code, Title 2 to add Chapter 2.96 and codify the Economic Development Committee (Continued from May 17, 2022). This committee has existed for decades on an informal basis, but Mayor Paul added codification to the work plan for FY 21-22. Discussion centered on composition, so the item was sent back to staff to draft an appropriately worded ordinance.
YOU CAN EXPRESS YOUR OPINION: Readers can voice their views via email to individual councilmembers, the council as a whole, the city manager, and the city clerk.
Note that emails to city council as a whole are forwarded to the city manager, whereas emails to individual council members are not. Clearly include in your subject line the topic or agenda item on which you are commenting: these become part of the public record. Contacts at CupertinoMatters.org/express-your-opinion.
CUPERTINO COURIER, May 20, 2022
There is a front page photo, entitled Structural integrity: Cupertino artist combines engineering, artistic skills in sculpture. This is a reference to Myrna Ehrlich, a featured artist mentioned in the page 5 article entitled Open Studios artists set to show off work spaces, artwork. Community briefs on page 5 include (1) River cleanup day (2) Bike to Work Days, and (3) New FUHSD superintendent. Legal notice on page 21 is Renewal of Storm Drain Fees and Clean Water and Storm Protection fees, with no increases.
Publisher and Editor