What’s in the Cards for San Jose Budget?

With a record budget deficit approaching $100 million and the limited sources of income dwindling in the recession, San Jose’s City Council is looking for creative ways to raise income. According to City Councilmember Nora Campos, “the only one of the items that even polled fair and that we may have an opportunity to receive some revenues” is the expansion of San Jose’s licensed card tables. According to Mayor Chuck Reed, the resulting tax revenues could be as much as $2-3 million per year.

The city currently has two card rooms, Garden City Casino and Bay 101. Bay 101, is already looking for opportunities to expand. The two already generate $13.5 million in tax revenues for the city.

There are several problems however. In October, it was reported that the club owners were already complaining to the city that the fees and taxes they paid were too high, and that was perceived as a threat to relocate if the city raises taxes on them. In other words, they are in a strong negotiating position with the city.

Furthermore, there is opposition from City Councilmember Sam Liccardo, who said, “Certainly no one is going to turn down the tax revenue that the gaming clubs create for the city, but at the same time, nobody wants Las Vegas in the middle of downtown San Jose.”

Then there is the problem of voter approval, which will be necessary before the card rooms expand. On the other hand, this is more likely to pass than another proposed revenue-earner—a proposed quarter of a percent increase on sales taxes.

The problem is that most likely victims of budget cuts will be city employees—550 of them out of a total workforce of 6,250. The SJPD and SJFD could see as much as 7 percent of their staff laid off, including 140 sworn police officers, 91 of them in patrol. And forget about the city’s library’s. Hours are about to be slashed in half, and as many as 88 people could lose their jobs.

While it’s being taken for granted that the taxpayers will end up paying their share and that the city will likely end up making cuts. The question now remains whether the eleven city employee unions will also be prepared to take some cuts. Though nine contracts are up for renewal, they’ve already signaled that they won’t just roll over. Which means the city may just have to deal—cards, that is.
Read More at KCBS.
Read More at The Mercury News.


  1. Bring on all the reactionary comments about those da** liberals and their tax hikes! smile (But BE SURE NOT to offer any alternative suggestions for how to fund our public services, education, police, etc.)

  2. Personally, I’d love to see our Downtown turn into a vibrant, casino-based destination.  Why do we need to send our residents to Indian Reservations or out of state to throw their money away?

    On the issue of library hours, I sure am thankful that we voted on a special parcel tax many years ago… what a joke!

  3. > With a record budget deficit approaching $100 million and the limited sources of income dwindling in the recession, San Jose’s City Council is looking for creative ways to raise income.

    I accept as my civic duty the challenge to find new sources of revenue for the City.

    Here are some ideas:

    First, tax the rich.

    1. Since the average city worker is paid more than the average private sector employee in San Jose, I propose a ten percent surtax on all city wages and salaries.

    2. Since city employees are beneficiaries of “Cadillac” benefit plans, including “Cadillac” health care, I propose a ten percent surtax on the health benefit plans of all city employees.

    3. Since city retirees have extraordinaraly generous retirement benefits, I propose a ten percent surtax on the retirement pay of former city employees.

    Next, tax those who don’t pay their fair share.

    4. Since people who drive Priuses and use the roads avoid paying their fair share of gasoline taxes, I propose a one hundred percent surcharge on the license fees of all Priuses registered or driven in the city.

    5. Likewise, since people who ride light rail and public transit are receiving massive tax payer subsidies for their rides AND are avoiding paying gasoline taxes, I propose a fifty percent surtax on public transit fares in San Jose.

    Then, encourage more tax generating activities.

    6. Sponsor “Learn to Smoke” programs in public schools to encourage school kids to take up smoking.  This will increase tobacco tax revenues.

    7. Ditto for “Learn to Drink” progams.  It will increase alcohol tax revenues.

    8. Repeal the 1,000 foot gun free zones around schools.  This will increase the geographical areas where guns can be owned as well as the population of potential gun buyers.  This will increase the sales tax revenues for gun sales in the city.

    The beauty of these suggestions is that they have aspects that will appeal to both conservatives and liberals.

    Politics is the art of the possible.

  4. This cardroom scheme is a perfect perpetual motion machine of poker profit revenue.
    Invite poor people to San Jose- preferably ones with gambling addiction problems. Make developers build them cheap houses to live in- preferably near the card rooms. Make them low interest loans if we have to and don’t worry whether or not they make the payments. Then encourage them to come in and gamble their Federal welfare checks and their State unemployment checks and any other free money they might happen to have on them. The City takes it’s cut. Voila. San Jose is back on the road to prosperity!

    • My gosh, we should all kneel before you in awe.  In one fell swoop, you’ve solved the plight of cities and towns across the land!

  5. Why not just completely close some branch libraries to ensure that the Main Library can stay open and even extend hours of operation?

  6. Never ticket nor prohibit bums and homeless from loitering, consuming alcohol, and camping along our city trails every day, since there’s no revenue flow attached—but do ticket joggers who use our city parks illegally during closed hours (http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_14421969)

    For a few extra $$$, always deny those silly contested parking tickets from people whose visitors park in front of their house in permit zones, but who mindlessly forgot to hang the guest permit in their car (happens in SJ in real life).

    Try ticketing City contractors who don’t meet obligations (might interfere with relationships though).  For example, the City would be better off financially if it ticketed the Los Lagos Golf Course contractor-operators each time it closed the gates to the Coyote Creek Trail too early (http://www.san-jose-pedestrians.com/?p=27).

  7. If the city is truly seeking ways to add new revenue, they should move with all alacrity to adopt an ordinance allowing medicinal cannabis collectives to operate in the city. In addition to providing a needed service to terminally ill and chronically sick patients, they can reap a revenue windfall via business license fees, sales taxes and a special use fee of $30,000 per dispensary. Even if the latter is put to a vote of the people. does anyone doubt for a moment it won’t pass? That’s certainly far more prudent than expending capital and diverting police and staff services that the city really doesn’t have (and will have even less of with a $100 deficit) on something that benefits so many.