A penny saved

287

After thinking it over, city officials decided spending almost
$30,000 on a parking enforcement scooter can wait at least two
years
– as 36 Hollister employees await pink slips and a lurking $4
million budget shortfall.
After thinking it over, city officials decided spending almost $30,000 on a parking enforcement scooter can wait at least two years – as 36 Hollister employees await pink slips and a lurking $4 million budget shortfall.

The City Council informally rescinded an April 5 approval to buy the three-wheeled parking enforcement vehicle. City Manager Dale Shaddox sent a notice by e-mail late last week of his recommendation to cancel the purchase, and Council members agreed it can wait.

Councilman Robert Scattini was the only dissenting vote April 5, when the tally was in favor of the approval 2-1. Councilmen Tony LoBue and Brian Conroy were absent from the meeting.

“My blood pressure probably went up to 220 over 90,” Scattini said, recalling his initial reading of the $28,000 proposal. “I had to read it four times to believe it.”

Based on imminent cuts in the Police Department, Shaddox and Police Chief Jeff Miller decided to steer the Council away from the deal, which they previously endorsed. The vehicle had been included in the 2003-04 budget.

Two non-sworn police officers made the list of 36 layoffs effective July 1. And more layoffs and cuts are likely in 2005-06.

The vehicle included various accessories, including a $3,000 air-conditioner. Hollister’s lone parking enforcement officer currently walks downtown chalking tires.

The city of Hollister can’t seem to get her off her feet. A couple years back, the city bought a $20,000 Harley-Davidson, which was later deemed unsafe. It has been parked, unused, for more than a year. Officials plan to sell that Harley soon.

Scattini has criticized city staff and other council members – Mayor Tony Bruscia and Pauline Valdivia – for supporting the purchase, especially during such difficult financial times in Hollister.

Councilman Tony LoBue said he would have voted against it. He stayed home sick that night, he said.

“We need to watch our dollars and cents,” LoBue said, “and I don’t think that was a good expenditure of our dollars and cents.”

Councilwoman Pauline Valdivia agreed to cancel the vehicle order. But she also believes the city must do its best to keep the officer safe, she said.

“I think in lieu of what we’re going through (with the budget), it might be a good idea to do that,” she said.

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