Cupertino’s 0% Interest Bank Account Raises Questions

As Cupertino continues to face a budget deficit and cut services, a growing number of residents are questioning why approximately $48M in city funds are being held in an account that earns zero interest.

Councilmember Kitty Moore flagged the account to staff, who confirmed that it does not earn any interest. Cupertino uses its Wells Fargo checking account to handle day-to-day transactions. The account is regularly referenced in Treasurer’s Reports, with a stated balance $49M as of December 31, 2023. A recent Public Records Request shows all of the latest transactions in this account, with a slightly different balance of $48.4M as of December 31, 2023. 

Checking accounts serve as an important source of liquidity for cities to fund regular operations. However, residents are now questioning whether it is appropriate to hold such a large amount in zero-interest checking. Assuming there is $48M in cash, if the city leaves $3M in the account for liquidity purposes, it could be earning up to $2.25M per year simply by moving the remaining $45M into a CD or Money Market bearing 5% interest. 

Considering Cupertino’s proposed drastic measures to close the budget gap, the millions in lost interest income are meaningful. For example, the City recently explored tax increases to generate $1M-$5M per year, raising fees on residents, and reducing costs by requiring residents to maintain sidewalks and street trees.

Residents are always welcome to express their opinion by emailing:

City Manager: CityManager@cupertino.org
City Council: citycouncil@cupertino.gov 

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