Council approves city budget

General fund budget upwards of $22 million

The City of Hollister’s budget continues to gradually balloon.

Hollister council members Monday adopted the city budget for Fiscal Year 2017/18.

Budget study sessions were previously held earlier this month.

Administrative Services Director Brett Miller told council members the general fund budget is  $22,104,872 and the expenditures would be covered by revenues and use of fund balances.

That general fund budget represents a 28.14 percent increase over the city’s general fund budget in 2012/13 five years ago when it had been $17.17 million. The 2016 general fund budget was $21,358,952.

According to resolution to adopt the budget, the amount of operating and debt service appropriations for all city funds is $53,542,808. Of that, $4,754,000 came from Measure E, an extension of the city’s one percent sales tax that was approved by voters last November.

Last year, Measure E contributed $4,504,000 to city coffers.

The resolution also states that the city’s General Fund has a projected available ending-fund balance of $4,168,057.

Miller addressed questions the council asked prior to the meeting.

“One of them was, how long has it been for a $400 stipend for city council?” Miller said. “I didn’t find the history, but I did see the amount we’re paying is what the government code states. You can increase it if you want by ordinance by five percent once every year.”

Miller stated $22,000 was spent on outside legal counsel for medical cannabis, referring to former Special Legal Counsel Pamela Epstein, who helped draft the city’s medical cannabis ordinance. Epstein is the founder of Green Wise LLC, a medical cannabis consulting firm.

Councilwoman Mickie Luna asked how much of the legal fees came out of the city council budget. Miller said all of it.

“The legal service contract is within the city council’s budget,” Miller said. “We don’t budget for the city attorney anymore.”

He also brought up the lack of a full-time city position in the proposed budget.

“The budget that was prepared did not include a Park Maintenance Worker I,” he said. “The budget that’s presented in your packets does not include that, but an additional parks maintenance person would be another $70,000 a year. If you wanted to add that, you could just do it in your motion.”

Councilman Jim Gillio made the motion to adopt the budget with the addition of a Parks Maintenance Worker I position at $70,000 a year. The motion carried 4-1, with Mayor Ignacio Velazquez voting “No.”

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