Santa Clara cancels 4th of July picnic, fireworks amid growing budget deficit

There will be several events in Cupertino on July 4th to celebrate Independence Day.

The City of Santa Clara has canceled its major Fourth of July picnic and fireworks event, the latest victim to budget cuts and social distancing in the era of COVID-19.

While other cities in the West Valley and up the peninsula have cut summer programming, others have held out hope.

“Cancelling our 4th of July festivities – one of our city’s most popular events – is in the best interest of all Santa Clarans and was not taken lightly,” Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor said in the announcement.

Making a decision now allows the city to avoid vendor contract fees should a later cancelation be needed. The picnic and fireworks regularly bring in about 10,000 participants, a feat seemingly impossible given current health guidelines. Santa Clara last canceled the Fourth of July events during the Great Recession, due to economic factors.

“During the COVID-19 outbreak, we are all making sacrifices for the health, safety and well-being of everyone in our community,” Gillmor said.

Looming budget cuts

In a letter to the community on Monday, Santa Clara’s City Manager Deanna Santana laid out the bleak fiscal picture. The City is now facing a $10 million deficit in the current fiscal year. And it could see a deficit of nearly $23 million in the next fiscal years, which starts in a few months.

Santana’s note said that a number of cost-cutting steps are already underway.

“We have already taken actions to reduce costs while trying to minimize the effects on level of public services,” it read.

A hiring freeze, cuts in temporary staffing, and reductions in travel and training are saving funds. Looking to the future, Santana also laid out potential cuts, which will certainly harm quality of life for residents. Specific cuts would have to get City Council approval, but could include the following:

  • Reduced parks and recreation programming
  • Fewer library hours and/or programming
  • Longer planning, code enforcement, and public safety response times
  • Fewer community events and grants
  • Reduced or deferred capital infrastructure maintenance
  • Less administrative staff to support quick public service
  • Reduced programs
  • Potential layoffs

To view the City of Santa Clara’s budget document for the next two fiscal years, click here.