San Benito mulls replacing assistant city manager

SAN BENITO — City Manager Manuel De La Rosa is trying to decide whether to replace Assistant City Manager Art Rodriguez.

After six years, Rodriguez, who drew a base salary of $72,462, has left to take a job as city manager of Eagle Pass.

Now, De La Rosa is reviewing his own staff and projects to decide if he will fill Rodriguez’s position, Mayor Celeste Sanchez said yesterday.

“Not right away,” Sanchez said of any hire. “The city manager is assessing all the projects and work that needs to be done and the kind of staff he will need.”

De La Rosa could not be reached for comment.

Sanchez said De La Rosa is considering the city’s “very aggressive agenda for this coming year.”

“Mr. De La Rosa is the one who will recommend what he wants — if he wants an assistant or more coordinators,” Sanchez said.

She described coordinators as similar to administrative assistants.

In recent years, the city of 24,500 has operated under as many as two assistant city managers.

Former City Manager Manuel Lara appointed two top officials to serve as city managers.

Chuck Jalomo, who worked as public works director for decades, served as assistant city manager from 2009 through 2014, when he retired.

Lara promoted Jalomo to oversee public works, planning, parks and the Community Development Block Grant program.

Rodriguez, who previously had worked as director of Civil Service and human resources for about two years, served as city manager from 2011 until he retired to take the job in Eagle Pass.

Lara promoted Rodriguez to oversee the police department, fire department and code enforcement.

The city commission accepted Rodriguez’s request for retirement, effective Jan. 31.

Rodriguez was hired last month as city manager of Eagle Pass.

In 2015, Rodriguez applied for San Benito’s city manager’s job while serving an interim city manager following Lara’s death in July 2015.

Rodriguez, a Brownsville native, was one of seven finalists for the job.

But city commissioners appointed De La Rosa.