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Community Letter from our City Manager Deanna J. Santana

Our One Year Accomplishments

Post Date:10/30/2018 3:30 PM
October 30, 2018

View and download PDF of this letter and Summary of Accomplishments FY2017-18

Deanna Santana

Dear Santa Clara Community,

This month marks the completion of my first year as Santa Clara’s City Manager and I am excited to share our accomplishments in advancing the City Council’s goals and priorities. Last October, I sent the community a letter introducing myself and expressing my excitement to serve Santa Clara. During this first year, I have spent a great deal of time focused on getting to know the community, City Council, workforce and stakeholders. I continue to be impressed with the high level of community, and the workforce’s commitment and engagement to maintaining a strong, vibrant community.

During my first year, the Mayor and Council directed two citywide surveys that allowed the City to assess how the Council and Administration are performing. Both of the statistically valid surveys are available on the City’s website: (1) January 2018 survey and (2) June 2018 survey. Here are some survey results from residents about how the City is building community and enhancing quality of life:

  • approximately 90 percent of those surveyed have a positive view of Santa Clara as a place to live
  • more than half – 64 percent – feel City government is doing an excellent-to-good job
  • 63 percent of those surveyed felt the City is heading in the right direction
  • 60 percent surveyed gave the City high marks for keeping residents informed

We now have a measurable, data-driven baseline on how the City is serving Santa Clara and where we can go from here. My goal is that we continue to improve through data-driven decision making, acknowledging that the majority of residents feel that the Council and Administration are on the right track.

I have also had the opportunity to assess the state of the Administration and service delivery systems. During the Jan. 2018 City Council Goal & Priority Setting Session, I shared publicly my assessment of operational needs and gaps in service. With Council’s approval, this session set the work plan for my first year. Since then, the City has made tremendous progress in these key areas:

Fiscal Outlook -  through diligent review of the City’s past budgeting practices and assumptions, we:

  • significantly corrected and reduced, for FY 2018/19, an $8.5 million budget shortfall to $1 million without cuts in services (saving 40-50 General Fund jobs) and successfully balanced the budget;
  • transitioned to a two-year budget cycle to make longer-term budget decisions;
  • moved from a 5-year to 10-year financial forecast to better project deficits and surpluses, and review budget decisions within a longer-term context;
  • ensured that we are on track to contribute over $70 million to our reserves in the first 12 months of my tenure and all operating reserves are at or above Council required levels; particularly, the General Fund Budget Stabilization Reserve was maintained well above $50 million, with additional scheduled one-time contributions of approximately $20 million during the first part of 2019; and,
  • developed a revenue generating strategy for the City Council to consider over the upcoming years with viable options and projected revenue to be generated.

Strategic Project Delivery - focused on strategic initiatives that respond to our community’s interests:

  • hand-in-hand with our community, we made unprecedented progress to realize the future reconstruction of Santa Clara’s downtown through funding the development of a Precise Plan and negotiating agreements for street rights to sections of Franklin and Washington Streets, and we are now positioned to work on the land use planning/visioning for the downtown through a community-oriented process;
  • after years of litigation, worked with the Mayor and Council to reach settlement agreements for: (1) build out of the CityPlace project with a total transportation improvement package of about $70 million and (2) protection for the City’s interests from San Jose’s Santana West development impacts resulting in nearly $8.7 million of housing and traffic improvements benefiting Santa Clara. CityPlace currently has a planned groundbreaking in late 2019 and brings a large-scale, mixed-use development in a geographically strategic area, directly across from the Levi’s Stadium;
  • completion of a City facility and infrastructure assessment (e.g., parks, facilities/buildings, public works systems, etc.), which provides an inventory of the state of our infrastructure and road map for future needed investments and critical improvements required to sustain quality of services;
  • launched implementation of a capital projects management system to streamline tracking, management, oversight, and implementation of the City’s 800 capital projects, transitioning from a manual process to a software system that provides real-time information of valued projects; and
  • obtained and improved key financial data to transparently manage the Santa Clara Stadium Authority and have answered basic questions about the Authority’s financials, while completing nearly 70 percent of the Measure J Compliance Audit recommendations and issuing a transparent budget and marketing plan.

Administrative Improvements and Modernization - through review of our service delivery systems, we found the absence of, and established, the following new focused services:

  • filled, for the first time, the City and Santa Clara Stadium Authority Auditor position with a Certified Public Accountant who has met the audit experience hours requirement, from the State, qualifying her to attest reports and audit engagements; she is now developing an auditing program to be presented in early 2019;
  • established a Risk Manager position to improve risk management of basic City services (e.g., workplace risk, contractual risk, insurance requirements, etc.);
  • improved procurement processes and contract oversight of the many public contracts that the City issues, supporting Council’s focus specifically on Levi’s® Stadium and the Convention Center;
  • reduced manual processes by incorporating technology to improve efficiency and address administrative gaps, such as: risk management, public records management and Council agenda development software;
  • developed a prevailing wage program to ensure compliance with state law including the implementation of a new tracking software and hiring of an outside contractor to help ensure compliance, provide training and perform audits of our public works projects, and;
  • implementation is underway on the City’s new Computer Aided Dispatch and Records Management Systems for our public safety departments.

Capacity-building/Streamlining to Continue to Transform the Organization – we have also invested in employees through training and staff development to keep skills sharp and modern, while assessing City’s portfolio for staffing needs. The City had many vacancies (for instance, the City Manager’s Office had a 60 percent vacancy rate of key personnel) and relied on several “acting” positions to deliver service, which is not a sustainable or stable long-term strategy. We have made progress, in likely the nation’s toughest market to recruit talent, with filling our many vacancies. We have also completed five labor agreements, within the City’s ability to pay, and are working with our five other bargaining units to reach successful labor agreements. 

I am also very pleased to report that we are achieving significant results with Council priorities and goals. In my many years as a City Manager, I know first-hand that these accomplishments are only possible by strong resident involvement and input about how to make our community better for current and future generations. With your continued involvement, and at the direction of the Mayor and Council, attached is an impressive summary of just some accomplishments during my first year that are reflected by the Council’s policy priority areas.

In closing, my role as City Manager is to implement the direction of the Council, ensure optimum operations and service delivery, and support City staff to maintain our high-performing organization. Santa Clara operates under a Council-Manager form of government that combines the strong political leadership of the Mayor and Council, with the strong managerial experience of an appointed professional administrator. Equally as important, these performance results are rooted in professional, ethical, legal and best management practices. During my first year as City Manager, you’ve likely noticed many changes underway in the City organization – changes that were necessary to foster increased transparency and performance, improve efficiencies and enhance service delivery. I want to thank the Mayor and City Council, Santa Clara community, and City staff for the support and amazing commitment to change and in support of our high performance for Santa Clarans. Santa Clara community/residents, these past 12 months have been tremendous for our City, and I thank you for your role in supporting the City organization live up to the Center of What’s Possible. 

In community spirit,

Deanna J. Santana
City Manager

View and download PDF of this letter and Summary of Accomplishments FY2017-18




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