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February 27, 2024

Hollister council at odds over permanent vs. interim manager

Hollister City Council members are at odds over whether to pursue a permanent city manager or hire an interim leader before Bill Avera departs in November.

Mayor Ignacio Velazquez has been outspoken that he would prefer an interim manager as a way for an outsider to scrutinize the city “department by department” and “with a set of fresh eyes.” The mayor suggested at Monday’s meeting that council members bring on an interim for six months.

But others on the council weren’t fond of that idea, including Carol Lenoir and Marty Richman. The group agreed to bring back Monday’s consideration, on whether to hire a professional recruitment firm, for consideration at a future meeting.

Lenoir said when a city has an opportunity of having a notice of 10-11 months, it should replace the person and not find an interim.

“When you get an interim, it’s when the city manager leaves and you have none,” she said. “He (Avera) needs two months with new person to train them.”

Avera announced Feb. 19 he will retire from the role in November, so that means the council basically had nine months to find a permanent replacement. Avera also gave a verbal warning in January that he planned to retire.

Still, Velazquez is pushing for an interim so that prospective person could do a review of the city.

“Tell us what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong,” he said.

Councilman Rolan Resendiz said he wanted a professional search, but didn’t indicate if he prefers an interim or pursuing the replacement for a hire before Avera leaves. Councilwoman Honor Spencer didn’t offer up much on the matter Monday.

Avery, 51, has been Hollister city manager for the past five years after he replaced former City Manager Clint Quilter. Before the city manager role, Avera served in planning leadership roles for Hollister. Avera said he gave so much time so the council could hire a successor.

Avera makes $189,950 per year in annual salary. He works under a retirement formula of 2.5 percent at 50, according to finance official Brett Miller. Annually for his pension, he will make 2.5 percent multiplied by his years of service. He has been with the city for 25 years.