SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — Serious questions were being raised in Santa Clara Wednesday about whether taxpayer dollars are helping cover costs that should have been billed to Levi’s Stadium.
After a month of investigating, the two seasoned auditors said Levi’s Stadium likely owes the city of Santa Clara a significant amount of money.
“Are we talking tens of thousands of dollars? Are we talking millions?” asked Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor.
“I don’t have a number for you right now, but we do think it’s an issue worth exploring,” said auditor Fred Brousseau.
Voter-approved Measure J was designed to keep Santa Clara taxpayer money from going towards running Levi’s Stadium, including the cost of Santa Clara police officers providing security while they’re on the clock for the city.
Earlier this year, the Santa Clara County civil grand jury released its findings after receiving complaints about Measure J violations.
The grand jury conducted many interviews, but in the end could not verify the complaints.
However, the grand jury recommended an audit because when multiple stadium managers were asked how they could “assure that the city’s general and enterprise funds were protected from subsidizing the operation and maintenance of Levi’s Stadium as stated in Measure J,” the answer was consistently “I don’t know.”
Mayor Gillmor said after years of not having one, there is now finally a code on employee timesheets to bill their work to the stadium.
When asked if she was confident Santa Clara will be made whole at the end of this, Gillmor replied, Absolutely confident now that we have the auditors place were taking a very proactive stance to make sure that we are complying with the law and getting our city is in good shape.
Former police union president Pat Nikolai, is running to be Santa Clara Police Chief. He has asked the council members that were present to lift a blanket order that prevents police officers and firefighters from speaking about possible Measure J violations.
When asked if he had seen some wrongdoing but couldn’t talk about it, Nikolai answered, “That’s correct. And I’ve had officers come to me with concerns about possible violations of Measure J.”
Current Police Chief Mike Sellers called Nikolai’s position as “election year grandstanding” and said he welcomes the audit.
“I want the audit to be very factual. I want it to be thorough and I think the only way you can do that is to investigate it internally first and get the officers involvement,” said Sellers. “And once the audit is complete, then we can have the discussion with the media and the citizens and everywhere else.”
When KPIX 5 asked Mayor Gillmor whether she thought the city would actually get reimbursed for the work that was done, she said if officials can prove that the work was done, by law it must be repaid.