NEWMAN - City Manager Michael Holland was awarded a new contract last week by the City Council.

Holland, who has held the city’s top management position for 13 years, received a 3 percent pay hike to $176,723 annually. The agreement also caps his out-of-pocket health care benefits at $300 a month, legal counsel advised before the council took action.

The new contract is for one year, but renews automatically until such time either party serves notice of non-renewal.

Holland’s previous contract expired in June. The new agreement is retroactive to June 16.

Mayor Bob Martina said he was pleased that the council and Holland were able to negotiate an agreement which continues his employment in Newman.

“I am so pleased that Michael has been our city manager. We can be proud of a lot of things that have occurred on his watch,” Martina commented. “That is a combination of having the right council, a good city manager and his staff. The city looks good, and it takes a lot of people to make it run.”

Holland, who served in a planning role for three years in Newman before being named city manager, agreed that the city’s successes have been a collective effort.

“I have had a great time working here with the various councils, and we have a great staff here who do their job well,” Holland remarked.

A number of changes have taken place in Newman over the last 15 years, he noted, some of which were already on the drawing board when he arrived on staff

as a planner.

During that time, the city has completed its downtown plaza, started to attract national retailers, finished its City Hall project, seen orderly residential development and more, Holland reflected.

Sound planning to maintain Newman’s unique character has been at the forefront throughout his tenure in the city, he added.

“You have to plan for growth, or it will run you over,” he commented.

While updating the city’s general plan, Holland added, local leaders heard a mandate from the public for the city to grow in an orderly fashion which created cohesive neighborhoods rather than piecemeal  subdivisions.

City staff has taken that guidance to heart, he stressed.

Going forward, Holland said, implementation of the Northwest Newman project is a priority.

“We are hopeful and optimistic that Northwest Newman will go through,” he reflected. “We will spend some time there fixing Jensen Road and trying to lay the groundwork for future jobs. The focus is really on trying to create a job center.”

A comprehensive performance review was part of the process of reaching a new employment agreement with Holland, Mayor Martina told Mattos Newspapers.

“It was difficult to find anything that we really thought he should improve on,” Martina commented. “To me, he has done a heck of a job.”