Hemet council eyes Interim City Manager Christopher Lopez promotion to permanent city manager

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The Hemet City Council following an Oct. 25 closed session meeting informed Interim City Manager Christopher Lopez he will become the city’s newest permanent city manager contingent upon contract negotiations and ratification of his hiring.

Lopez was named interim city manager in April 2018 following the termination without cause of City Manager Allen Parker.

Following the contract negotiations and approval of the council, he will become the city’s 13th city manager since 2000. The city has been criticized over the number of city managers it has hired and fired since that time. Much of the criticism was due to their inability to help solve the city’s fiscal and financial problems to the sitting council’s satisfaction.

Since becoming the interim city manager and with the help of his staff, Lopez have provided a sustainable balanced city budget and kept the goals to improve the city’s police and fire departments through voter approved Measure D spending. He has overseen the completion of the Stetson Street Bridge, major repaving projects and provided a five-year capital improvement plan.

With the announcement of his anticipated hiring, Lopez said, “I look forward to the discussions with our city council on how we will continue to move the city of Hemet forward. It is absolutely critical that the city of Hemet begin strategic planning discussions so that we can capitalize on our strengths and continue on the positive momentum we’ve achieved.

“The fiscal health of the city is a top priority for the city’s management team. While the city should be applauded for its ability to maintain its 20% emergency reserves, increases in PERS, labor costs, contractual obligations and retiree medical health costs continue to place significant strain on the city’s budget. This is not specific to the city of Hemet as agencies across the state of California are facing these significant challenges. As a result of this reality, we are in the middle of finalizing a financial model that will aid the council in upcoming budget discussions,” Lopez said.

He said, “The employees of the city of Hemet should be applauded for their commitment to serving the community of Hemet. They are the key link in making sure that the services provided by the city continue day in and day out. I am proud to be surrounded by a team that is committed to raising the performance of our organization every day.”

The city manager job, outlined on the city’s webpages show they serve as an adviser to the city council on policy matters impacting Menifee’s community and the city organization; enacts policies and procedures to efficiently and effectively carry out the city council’s directives; supports the information and policymaking needs of the city council and implements city council decisions; appoints the city department directors; Ensures that city services are performed to the highest standard in accordance with city council goals and policies and prepares, manages and implements the annual budgets for the city as well as the City Capital Improvement Program, in support of city council goals. Hemet’s previous city managers have earned an average of approximately $200,000 to start with health and expense benefits.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.