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Santa Clara appoints new city manager amid salary controversy

PIX Now 08:15

SANTA CLARA – The city of Santa Clara ended a lengthy search when it hired a new city manager this week.

The City Council voted 4-1 to appoint Jovan Grogan to fill the vacancy left by the previous city manager, Deanna Santana, who was fired last year.

Grogan, who is currently the city manager of San Bruno, will start his new position in Santa Clara on May 1.

Grogan in his role as city manager will also serve as the executive director of the Santa Clara Stadium Authority and will be responsible for oversight of the city's electric utility and the Santa Clara Convention Center.

A statement from the city of Santa Clara said Grogan has a "proven track record" of helping public agencies resolve fiscal challenges.

Grogan, who has previously served as second in command in Berkeley and Concord and worked at a consulting firm that specializes in helping local governments improve operations, will need to bring those skills to Santa Clara because the city is in debt.

City Councilmember Raj Chahal said that the city has a budget deficit of $27 million this year.

That's where Grogan's budgeting experience will come in.

When he takes his new position, Grogan will get a huge raise. According to documents from both cities, he makes $258,203 as city manager in San Bruno. He will make $405,056 in Santa Clara.

City Councilmember Sudhanshu Jain said Grogan was "very well qualified" and rebuked rumors that Grogan was overpaid. He said that Grogan's salary was "well below" that of Santana, whose base pay was $448,000 in 2020.

City Councilmember Anthony Becker voted against the appointment based on Grogan's high salary.

Becker said he agreed with his colleagues on Grogan's bona fides but said "such high salaries" was how the city got into deficit in the first place.

"We are to a point now where I feel that it's unsustainable," Becker said. "I'm looking at Mr. Grogan as an opportunity to bring our city back. But we're in a deficit. We need to make drastic changes now."

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