Guest View: Mayor’s update for 2016

Mayor Ignacio Velazquez

As we begin 2016, I’d like to share with everyone an update on what has been going on in the City of Hollister and what the plans are for the future. I believe that this year, 2016, is the year that we can finally move to the next phase of improving our existing infrastructure, quality of life projects and growing our economic picture that will benefit our community for years to come.
Firstly, I’d like to assure you that we have been making great progress in the city, both financially and in terms of planning for the future. In the last few years, we have changed our financial picture from being in the negative to being in the positive. As mayor, it was my priority to review and restructure our existing debt. We have been able to refinance our bonds on the wastewater treatment plant saving us nearly $1 million a year for the next 20 years, which will allow us to keep rates from rising any further. By aggressively paying down our retirement fund debt we will be saving our city another $750,000 per year. We also refinanced the Redevelopment Agency debt, which will put millions of dollars back into our community over the next few decades. The reorganization of our workforce has also led to savings throughout all of our departments, allowing us to start focusing on our future.
Planning for the future can be a challenge in government because of the pressure to spend on the present rather than invest in the future. The cost to repair all the roads in the City of Hollister is estimated to be somewhere between $40 million to $60 million and increases substantially every year that we ignore the problem. Currently, we are doing an analysis of every street in the city with the goal of starting repair work in early 2017. Additional projects such as the widening of Highway 25 are also in the discussion and planning stage, but with an estimated cost of $300 million, we need the state to step up and do their part since they are the owners of the highway.
Quality of life is important to our entire community, last year many of our parks were retrofitted with new safer playground equipment, leading to many more families enjoying our parks. This year, the remaining parks will also be upgraded and we will also be adding a new dog park. Our partnership with the County has never been stronger, which has allowed us to have conversations about partnering together to build a regional park, aquatic park, ball park and a new technology/library center. New recreational programs have experienced a boom in activities and participation for residents of all ages.
On the economic side, a new hotel will open later this year and many new retailers have shown an interest in coming to our city. Downtown will be more inviting to pedestrians this year as we begin the first phase of revitalizing the heart of our community. We have asked the Hollister Downtown Association to work with us to bring more restaurants and entertainment venues to the downtown area. Finally, after several years of working to balance our budget, this is the year that we can allocate funding to recruit both commercial and industrial businesses to bring more jobs to our community.
As always, if you have a question please feel free to call me at (831) 905-3720.
Mayor Ignacio Velazquez

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