Increasing foreclosures, local business collapse, severe budget problems and sales tax percentages near all-time lows are just a few of the challenges Len Wood has had to face.

Originally agreeing to come on for only 90 days; today marks the end of Wood’s nearly year-and-a-half of service as Hemet’s interim city manager.

Wood stated that he was asked to stay on for another year after the first three months.

“Then they still hadn’t moved forward with recruitment, so it extended another three months,” Wood said.

The new City Manager, Brian Nakamura, will have similar challenges in the coming months, as these issues remain stagnant in local government.

“Brian knows Riverside County and has faced similar budget problems,” Wood said.

Wood, an experienced veteran of nearly four decades, said, “The biggest problem was the budget.”

The city has thrived off growth in development in the past. Wood explained that this money is cycled into operating expenses, such as police and fire services.

Like just about every city in California, the problem Hemet is facing is that general funds are drying up.

“I had to go into my tenure of 17-months. I went to the council three times for cuts,” Wood said.

Although the utility tax put forward did not pass, Wood claimed that it served to bring credibility to the city.

“The city of Hemet has had a credibility problem. The city has not been prudent in spending,” Wood said.

Wood was accompanied by both the police and fire department in making over 100 appearances discussing how a 5 percent utility tax would aid critical city services in such dyer economic times.

Wood believes the city will put this tax to another vote in the future. The utility tax pulled 46-percent of the vote.

Realizing emergency services cuts were likely, Wood said, “A lot of people didn’t believe it. A tremendous number of management realized it was a real threat.”

As far as the city’s economy and labor relations are concerned, Wood stated the importance of laying a good financial base.

“Economic swings are always contained,” Wood said. “Labor relations are now all taking. It is a really fascinating subject. All roles are reversed.”

Wood said that being a city manager in recent times requires a multitude of talents, including sustainability and handling state interference.

Louis Dettorre can be reached at