San Benito negotiating new contract with new city manager

SAN BENITO — City officials are in the process of negotiating a new contract with City Manager Manuel De La Rosa.

Recently, the City Commission voted to propose a three-year contract extension with a $5,000 salary increase.

In his job performance, evaluated in July, he received an “above satisfactory” rating.

Under his current contract, De La Rosa earns $95,000 a year. The salary bump would increase that to $100,000.

The negotiations on his contract will be discussed by De La Rosa, Mayor Celeste Sanchez and City Attorney Ricardo Morado before it’s given to De La Rosa for his final review and consent.

It will require approval of the City Commission prior to implementation.

“I am happy with their decision,” De La Rosa said.

“I am community-oriented and I am a resident of San Benito. I consider San Benito my community, where I take ownership and face quality-of-life opportunities. I respect the commission and their decisions. I am here to serve them and this community.”

De La Rosa began work on Jan. 19 to fill the vacancy created with the sudden death of former city manager Manuel Lara, who died last July.

With more than 29 years of experience in city government, De La Rosa said he has worked for mostly small communities about the same size as San Benito and smaller.

He spent 10 years in public works and then moved on to become a city manager. For the past 15 years, he has provided guidance and advice to city councils and in the past five years he said he has honed those skills.

“We are headed in a positive direction for the city. We have much to accomplish, and with this contract issue nearing resolution, we can turn our full attention to projects that will benefit the city. I take pride in moving projects forward,” De La Rosa said.

The decision for the contract extension was not unanimous, but drew positive comments from several commissioners and Sanchez, who expressed her happiness with his overall job performance.

He has vast experience in all levels of city government, she said.

“He will help us operate our city at a level of competence, efficiency and customer responsiveness,” she said.

“He is proactive and takes the time to listen to us as elected officials, as well as to our employees and the general public. He encourages employees to improve their knowledge, abilities and skills.”

Commissioner Joe D. Gonzalez praised him for his effective and transparent practices.

“He is an experienced administrator and has demonstrated it many times during his term. He immediately tightened the grips on the supervision and accountability of our department directors and staff,” Gonzalez said.

“He has been confronted with serious issues since the onset. He has not wavered in having to make those tough decisions and recommendations to the commission.”

With the high praise from some commissioners came disagreements from others.

“Even though I didn’t agree with the outcome of the three-year contract, I want to continue working with Mr. De La Rosa in moving our city forward,” Commissioner Esteban Rodriguez said.

Mayor Pro Tem Tony Gonzales said he has put the vote outcome behind him and is looking forward to working with the city manager.

“I will continue to work with Mr. De La Rosa. It was just how I felt at the time, but we need to look ahead, not behind us,” he said.