City Hall
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There appears to be a new attitude at the city under Mayor Ignacio Velazquez, with several examples on display at last week’s council meeting.
Council members approved the revival of a volunteer-based Neighborhood Watch program, discussed several moves to pay down some serious debt and got word on more than $100,000 in revenue coming from July’s motorcycle rally.
Other council members and officials deserve credit as well. But without leadership from Velazquez, and considering the city’s recent history, it’s hard to believe the city would be taking these significant steps.
With the Neighborhood Watch revival, it shows city leaders understand the importance of using volunteers to fill gaps when possible.
With the debt, the city owed around $10 million in side-fund retirement liability to CalPERS and retired $600,000 of it, while officials retired another $5 million in debt from bonds to build the sewer plant. The sewer-bond move will save the city around $3.4 million in interest payments, while the CalPERS change will bring savings with many variables deciding the precise amount.
Officials also discussed finalization of a new contract with the city’s general unit of the Service Employees International Union and how the agreement includes a third tier for employee benefits. Although the city essentially bribed the union with $1,000 upfront payments to each employee in order to make the deal, it will eventually save many times that initial cost in the long run.
As for the motorcycle rally – back from the dead due to Velazquez’s push to re-launch it during and after his 2012 election victory, and buoyed by the private manager’s success in the first run back – officials broached that Hollister took in more than $140,000 from the event. It is a far cry from the six-figure deficits fostered by prior city leaders who supported inflated security budgets that previously killed the event.
Those recent discussions are all examples of a new attitude at Hollister City Hall, possibly bolstered by departures of several top-level managers who weren’t pulling their weight or necessarily looking out for the community’s best interests.
It is refreshing to see city leaders making decisions that are financially and logically sound. The next step is to carry the momentum into 2014 and beyond.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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