February 24th, Benicia’s new City Manager Brad Kilger continued to get to know the community and allow participants to ask questions of him at the BIPA annual membership luncheon at the Yacht Club. The theme of Mr. Kilger’s comments was economic development. After relaying a bit of his history and why he chose Benicia (it was for the challenges & opportunities it presents, and for its quality of life), Kilger made clear his ideas to put more resources and focus on an issue that has not been a priority in the past; commenting that when he came on board, there was only a half-time employee in Economic Development.

Since Kilger was hired for his interest and expertise in economic development, this came as no surprise. He stated that his goal was to “attract new business and retain and expand existing businesses,” and work with business owners to streamline the permitting process by updating zoning regulations, working with staff as a team to eliminate conflicting policy goals and decrease the number of reviewing authorities.

Kilger spoke in broad themes about the issues facing our town—the cleanup of the Arsenal, long-term viability of the Industrial park, and supporting the tourism program. Kilger’s comments about City salaries and overstaffing were confined to “You’ll see reductions in City staff and in compensation. We
are negotiating with our collective bargaining units.” Stating that there are “lots of needs and wants,” Kilger spoke of the need to “work together and be cooperative.” A tall order indeed, in light of all the recent press, and divisiveness in letters to the editor in the Benicia Herald, www.beniciaherald.wordpress.com, regarding these and other important issues facing Benicia.