City Council Approves Service Cuts


– As expected, the Hollister City Council approved more than $1
million in budget cuts on Tuesday evening.
Hollister – As expected, the Hollister City Council approved more than $1 million in budget cuts on Tuesday evening.

The council unanimously approved its proposed deficit reduction plan, which eliminates 12 full-time city staff positions and keeps more than $3 million in the city’s coffers through June 2010.

Mayor Brad Pike said he hopes the lifting of the sewer moratorium next year will help the city’s financial woes.

“We’re on the cusp of getting out of it and looking for the future to start bright and fresh,” Pike said.

But Felix Solano, who has lived in Hollister for 70 years, expressed his concerns over the police and fire department cuts to the council during Tuesday’s meeting. He said the Hollister Fire Department’s ability to handle multiple incidents would be compromised with the loss of a truck company.

“Let’s take care of what we’ve got here and take care of our own,” Solano said.

The closure of the City Hall for one day a week will allow staff to focus on long-range planning, City Manager Clint Quilter said.

Quilter said some service reductions, such as the elimination of pothole repairs, will be implemented immediately. But reductions that require public notification, such as office closures, won’t be implemented until March.

“Most of (the reductions) won’t be done until March,” Quilter said.

The Hollister Fire Department will lose a truck company for one-third of the time beginning in March, Quilter said.

The Hollister Police Department has been operating short staffed in anticipation of the cuts. But Hollister Police Chief Jeff Miller said officers will continue to work hard.

“We’re going to do the best we can to provide service,” Miller said. “It’s unfortunate that there were reductions. I hope that when that happens, people don’t take it out on the officers or the dispatchers. They’re doing the best they can.”

Despite the drastic service cuts, the meeting ended on a bright note.

The Hollister Motorcycle Rally Committee presented the city council with a $125,000 check, $25,000 more than the city’s required amount. The check was the first in a series of payments to the city to cover the rally’s public safety costs.

Seth Doulton, the rally’s promoter, addressed the council and handed the check to Quilter.

“It’s a San Benito Bank check, so if you have any problems, go over there,” Doulton told the council.

With $257,000 left to cover the rally’s public safety costs, Doulton said the committee is ahead of schedule. He expects another six-figure check shortly, well ahead of the March 1 deadline.

Michael Van Cassell covers public safety for the Free Lance. He can be reached at 831-637-5566 ext. 335 or [email protected]


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