San Juan Bautista City Council begins process to hire permanent city manager

San Juan Bautista begins search for permanent city manager.

The San Juan Bautista City Council held a closed session Jan. 30 during a special session to consider the appointment of a permanent city manager.

Before going into the closed hearing councilmembers Chris Martorana and John Freeman were appointed as a subcommittee to negotiate an employment agreement for city manager.

J. Edward Tewes has been acting city manager since Sept. 19. He was hired on an interium basis until a permanent city manager is hired. He works 32 hours a week at a rate of $50 an hour.

In December the city hired Michaele LaForge as assistant city manager.

There were no announcements after the closed hearing.

In other action, the council, with Councilman Tony Boch, absent, unanimously approved an amendment authorizing Tewes to execute an agreement with Edenbridge Homes regarding a city water well.

Edenbridge Homes is the developer of the 45 single family home Copperleaf subdivision. It is being developed on 12.52 acres on San Juan Hollister Road. The company would undertake all expenses for drilling, testing and developing Well 5 and give the well to the city upon completion.

The city found that Edenbridge Homes could develop the well faster and cheaper than if the city had to accumulate money for the project and put it out to bid.

Under the agreement the company would receive a credit against water connection fees, which would be paid along with each building permit for new homes. The connection fee had been $7,550 per unit. As of last July 1, it went to $8,482 per unit. It will be increased again July 1 of this year, based on the Construction Cost Index of the Engineering News Record.

Edenbridge has acknowledged the higher fees because there is not a development agreement for the project locking in fees. The value of the amended fees is $381,690.

The city will submit water quality tests to the state and expects to receive permission to put in Well 5 within 30 days. The city will bear the cost of connecting the well to an iron/manganese water treatment plant. The well is expected to be online in March.

The new well is part of the city plan to improve its water system, which has been cited by the State Water Board and the San Benito County Department of Environmental Heath for excessive nitrates. City residents have been warned not to drink the water.

Nitrates are associated with run-off of fertilizers used in agriculture. Nitrates can interfere with the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen to body tissues. They produce a condition called methemoglobinemia. Infants who ingest too many nitrates can develop “blue baby syndrome.” Nitrates also can adversely affect pregnant women.

In another action regarding the water supply, Tewes has been negotiating with San Juan Bautista farmer Dale Coke on the price and terms of a well swap agreement.

The agreement, which must be approved by the City Council, calls for a swap of land. The city will get the Coke property well in exchange for about 0.8 acres of city property at the corner of Mission Vineyard and San Juan Hollister Road. Coke would then acquire Well No. 3, which he can abandon or use for agriculture.

Thomas Leyde