Merced County Times Newspaper
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Atwater approves hiring of Hoem as city manager

Chris Hoem has been appointed as Atwater City Manager.
Chris Hoem has been appointed as Atwater City Manager.

The City of Atwater officially has a new city manager. During Monday’s night’s meeting of the Atwater City Council, leaders voted to appoint Chris Hoem as the new city manager.

Prior to the council’s vote, public comment revealed some concerns regarding Hoem’s history. Hoem had been terminated in February of this year from his position as community development director in Ceres.

“You’re considering hiring somebody that has never been a city manager, has a reputation of not giving reports on time, and just recently lost his job,” local resident Linda Dash pointed out. “How will our employees feel now that they have heard that a toxic workplace existed at his last employment? How would these employees be able to trust this individual?”

Dash also expressed concerns that the City Council had not acted in accordance with the Brown Act, and that they may have made the decision to hire Hoem during a closed session. City Attorney Frank Splendorio clarified that the Brown Act required the council to report on any final actions, and that the final decision was being made during the present meeting.

Following public comment, Mayor Mike Nelson shared that they have received 61 applicants for the city manager position, the majority of whom were insufficiently qualified. Nelson reassured those attending that the council had been aware of Hoem’s history, and had done their research thoroughly.

The appointment was approved, with all present council members voting YES. Councilman Button was absent from the meeting.

Hoem was appointed with a three year contract effective Monday, with work commencing Tuesday. The starting pay for the new city manager is $199,445.79, with a three-year contract and eligibility for an increase in pay after one year which would increase the pay to $209,418.08

Hoem says that in spite of some of the public’s misgivings, he is looking forward to getting to work.

“I’m honored to be entrusted with this role,” Hoem told the Times following the meeting. “I’m looking forward to working with everyone, meeting people. I’d love to meet everyone that spoke today, and just get to know them, understand their concerns, and see where we can work well together.”

Water, sewer rates

The city council had been scheduled to adopt new rates for water and sewer services, however the vote was postponed due to the absence of Councilman Button. The new date for the vote will be announced prior to when it will take place.

Fireworks reporting
Atwater will be using the “Nail ‘em” app again this year in their continued fight against illegal fireworks. The app came into use last year, and over 50 reports were made. The data collected from last year’s reports has provided the city with greater insight into the locations where individuals set off illegal fireworks, where the Atwater Police Department will be incorporating increased patrolling this year. Members of the community are encouraged to download the free app, which is available for both iPhone and Android.

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