The Cupertino City Council, including Mayor Sheila Mohan, Vice Mayor J.R. Fruen, and Councilmembers Liang Chao, Hung Wei and Kitty Moore, sits at the dais on April 17.
The Cupertino City Council unanimously voted to approve $9 million in cuts to service reductions on April 16, 2024 to help balance the budget in the face of a $15 million deficit. Photo by Annalise Freimarck.

Cupertino officials are about to implement some of the largest cuts to city services residents have ever seen, as the city works to balance its budget in the face of a multimillion-dollar deficit.

The Cupertino City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a $9 million reduction in services for fiscal year 2024-25 in an effort to balance the budget in the face of a $15 million shortfall. That’s $1.5 million less than initially planned after hearing negative feedback from residents about shifting the responsibility of tree and sidewalk maintenance to property owners.

The city estimates its capital improvement program will have roughly $15 million going into the 2024-25 fiscal year, but anticipates that dropping to roughly $6.6 million by the end of the fiscal year. Other cuts include reducing public works contracts and cutting vacant positions, saving about $1.8 million.

“I do think we can ease ourselves into service level reductions until the economics catch up (and) economics are catching up,” Councilmember Hung Wei told San José Spotlight.

She said the rest of the funding could stem from increased revenues through things such as ticket prices at Blackberry Farm Golf Course and the development of two upscale hotels.

Wei said Cupertino residents haven’t experienced this level of cuts before in a city historically flush with cash, but that they won’t notice a significant effect on their quality of life.

The deficit comes from a loss in Apple sales taxes, after an audit from California’s Department of Tax and Fee Administration last year. City officials predict the shortfall to be roughly $10.1 million going into fiscal year 2024-25 out of the estimated $15 million.

The city decided to rethink a number of controversial items, including not putting a tax measure on the 2024 ballot, changing its tree-trimming timeline from seven to 10 years and grinding down sidewalks instead of replacing them.

Deputy City Manager Tina Kapoor said addressing the city’s deficit requires collaboration between the city and its residents.

“This is a daunting task that staff, council and the community have been working on since the (Apple tax) decision. Partnership has been the focus in this shared endeavor,” she told San José Spotlight.

Jean Bedord, a Cupertino resident for about 30 years, said she believes the city is doing its best, but hopes things like the Fourth of July fireworks, which were cut, will return. She said more development is a way to do that.

“Right now they’re facing probably a worst-case scenario,” she told San José Spotlight. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to increase revenue and bring some of those things back in the future.”

Contact Annalise Freimarck at [email protected] or follow @annalise_ellen on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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