Council preview: Officials consider hiring firefighters

City Hall

Hollister council members Monday night will consider hiring six full-time firefighters, expanding homeless services for the Winter Shelter Program, and temporary street closures for the 26th annual Lights On Celebration.

Council members will also receive a staff report on the state ballot measure Proposition 64, which would legalize recreational marijuana use for adults ages 21 years and up.

Monday’s meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. at Hollister City Hall, 375 Fifth Street.

Expanded homeless services
Council members will consider approving $25,000 in order to expand services for the winter shelter program at the migrant center. According to the meeting’s expanded agenda packet, the City of Hollister received a request to expand the number of available beds. Expanding services for the program will allow the shelter to serve an additional 30 to 40 people from December through March.

According to the agenda packet, the preliminary estimate for expanding services is $189,000, with $129,000 coming from San Benito County and the remainder coming from the City of Hollister. The city contributed $47,000 to the program last year, but the county has helped reduce the requested amount to $25,000 this year.

Street closures
The Hollister Downtown Association is requesting temporary street closures for the 26th Annual Lights On Celebration that kicks off the holiday season in the community. The celebration and parade are set to be held Saturday, Nov. 26 in downtown Hollister. This year’s event will feature a boutique at the Veterans Memorial Building, as well as a car show.

Measure E report
The Measure E Oversight Committee is expected to give a status report to the council regarding fiscal year 2015-2016 that ended at the end of June. Measure E extended the city’s 1 percent sales tax until 2018. Measure W, which is on the ballot this November, would extend the sales tax for 20 years.

According to documents in the agenda packet, the oversight committee believes the council is spending Measure E funds consistent with the intent of the voter-approved measure, and has found no misuse of funds. The committee is requesting, after the General Election this November, that the council provide the community with a long-range plan in order to eliminate the need to further extend Measure W.

Firefighter positions
Council members will consider a resolution authorizing the Hollister Fire Department to hire six permanent, full-time firefighters. Costs associated with hiring the additional personnel are approximately $505,000.

A six-firefighter hire provides the staffing needed to deliver safe and effective service in the community, including current contract obligations with San Benito County and the City of San Juan Bautista, according to the agenda packet.

Twelve firefighters were recently laid off due to the department’s failure to receive a federal grant. The grant would have provided $1,145,000 per year. The department previously received the grant in 2014 and was awarded $2.2 million, which provided the funding to staff 12 firefighters full time.

Teknova request
Local company Teknova is requesting permission to expand their existing 45,000-square foot facility to another 80,000-square feet. The biotechnology manufacturer moved to Hollister in 2004 and currently provides 84 local jobs. According to the agenda packet, employment could double with the expansion.

City staff members recently met with Teknova to discuss incentives for business retention and expansion. The company is being courted to relocate and expand operations elsewhere, according to the packet. The company has identified the recent increase in traffic impact fees as a reason to consider relocation.

A table attached to the agenda packet shows that Teknova has proposed that the City of Hollister direct staff to waive building department fees. In an adjacent table, city staff wrote, “Do not recommend: Waiver of building fees (plan check/inspections) would be an estimated $36,786 General Fund expense.”

Prop. 64
City staff with present a brief report on Proposition 64, which would legalize recreational marijuana use for adults 21 years old and older. The council previously directed staff to place Prop 64 on the agenda for discussion at their Oct. 3 meeting. Council members are waiting until after the General Election in November before deciding on a local marijuana ordinance.

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