Long time City Manager Jennifer Sparacino has informed the Santa Clara City Council of her upcoming retirement. “Jennifer is one of the finest individuals to have ever graced public service. She is a model of professional integrity and set the standard as an outstanding Chief Executive Officer,” stated Mayor Jamie L. Matthews. “We will miss her leadership and are grateful for her extraordinary service to the City and residents of Santa Clara.” Sparacino will retire June 30, 2012.
“The City of Santa Clara is more than my place of employment. It has been a great community in which to live and work,” Sparacino said in a letter to the Mayor and City Council. “The years have been personally very rewarding, full of opportunities, accomplishments, challenges and celebrations.”
Since Sparacino took on the City Manager job in 1987, the City of Santa Clara has grown in population from 89,700 to approximately 118,000. During this period, in economic booms as well as downturns, the City has been able to invest more than $1.5 billion in infrastructure and other capital projects designed to improve the quality of life for residents, and which continue to make Santa Clara attractive to business.
As City Manager, Sparacino has overseen hundreds of municipal projects and accomplishments such as construction of the Central Park Library, Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park, and the Don Von Raesfeld (DVR) 147 MW electric power plant in the City of Santa Clara, renovation and expansion of the Senior Center, establishment of the City’s award-winning Ethics & Values Program, and the City’s selection by the National Civic League as an All-America City. Under Sparacino’s tenure, Santa Clara has maintained the lowest combined utility rates in the nine Bay Area counties. Most recently, she and City departments have worked with the Santa Clara Stadium Authority to begin construction of a new stadium for the 49ers football team, under unique and creative long term financing agreements that protect the City’s General Fund and its municipal utilities, financing that was completed in March, 2012.
Sparacino attributes her career accomplishments to the work of City departments at every level. “Santa Clara has an outstanding executive management team, both current and former, and I have been especially proud to have served with these professionals,” she emphasized. “The City has dedicated employees in every department and I have been privileged to work with all of them, including our retired City employees and former City Manager Don Von Raesfeld,” Sparacino noted. “Don helped establish the City’s high standards of citizen service excellence.”
In 2004, Sparacino received the most prestigious award in her professional field for her career achievements. The “Award for Career Excellence in Honor of Mark E. Keane” was presented at the national conference of ICMA, the International City/County Management Association. Sparacino was recognized for giving “many years of distinguished service to the City of Santa Clara and (for) her reputation for promoting ethical leadership, inspiring city officials around the world,” according to the ICMA award announcement. In accepting the honor, Sparacino said that the award was “for the City of Santa Clara, and a reflection of this great community. I am fortunate to work with an excellent Mayor and City Council, both the current and former Mayors and Council Members.”
In announcing her upcoming retirement, Sparacino indicated that her “focus during the next few months will be to propose a balanced City budget and to leave this City in the best condition to ensure continued successes.” The process for finding a new City Manager will be defined in the next few weeks by the City Council.
Sparacino’s salary is $285,000 annually. She is responsible for total City budgets of $558.7 million for Fiscal Year 2011-12, including general operating funds ($146.2 million), special revenue funds ($1.6 million), internal service funds ($7.1 million) and enterprise (utility) funds ($340.6 million), and capital improvement projects ($63.2 million).
Founded in 1852, Santa Clara established its Charter in 1951, and since that time has had only four City Managers, unusual in a profession where a city manager’s average tenure is about seven years. Sparacino was appointed in 1987 to replace former City Manager Don Von Raesfeld, who had served 24 years in the position, and for whom the DVR Power Plant is named. Sparacino has been with the City of Santa Clara since 1976, and has the longest continuous tenure of all City Managers currently managing the fifteen cities in Santa Clara County.