La Feria in search of next city manager

LA FERIA — City officials have already begun to clear the air after firing longtime city manager Sunny K. Philip.

Now the city is in the planning stages of beginning its search for the next city manager.

But, first city commissioners met on Saturday to discuss the city’s rights, and obligations between the city and Philip.

The commissioners were scheduled to meet in executive session with their attorney, Rick Navarro, to review a contract signed in April 1996 between Philip and then La Feria Mayor Paul F. Beechner.

However, items on the agenda about Philip were tabled because their attorney was not available to attend the meeting.

Navarro was hired by the city commission to perform a performance evaluation of the city manager.

The city officials have deferred all questions concerning the issue of the city manager to Navarro.

Philip’s last day as city manager was Friday after the City Commission made a unanimous decision last Tuesday to fire him.

Philip held the position of city manager for 23 years and was employed first in 1983 as finance director, a position he held for 10 years.

The commission did vote on Saturday to appoint an interim city manager to oversee the functions and duties of the office.

City Secretary Esmeralda Sanchez, 44, who is also the human resources director and oversees the city’s capital improvement projects, was appointed interim city manager until the position is filled.

The City Commission has yet to make a decision to increase Sanchez’s pay while performing the duties of city manager.

Sanchez, originally from Weslaco, was first appointed city secretary in 2016. She has been employed with the city since 2013 as a capital project coordinator for the city.

Sanchez attended the University of Texas at Austin where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She also holds a master’s degree from Texas A&M in health policy and management.

“There is a lot of work to be done,” Sanchez said. “We’re just going to keep moving the city forward.”