San Benito changes up City Hall

SAN BENITO — City Hall is shuffling key positions and boosting salaries.

City Manager Manuel De La Rosa has reassigned Fred Bell, who has served as the city’s planning director, to assistant to the city manager.

The move increased Bell’s salary from $56,374 to $60,687.

Meanwhile, De La Rosa also appointed Bernard Rodriguez, the city’s downtown coordinator, to the planning director’s job.

Rodriguez, who will continue to serve as downtown coordinator, will make a salary of $55,000, up from $45,000.

“These men have distinguished themselves as quality leaders with their professional backgrounds and experience that will create an atmosphere for greater growth and development with the city of San Benito,” De La Rosa stated yesterday.

“I believe the first step in developing a more progressive city is through the placement of qualified professionals who know how to get the job done. These gentlemen are up for that task.”

Bell, who took the job of planning director in July 2016, worked most of his career in law enforcement before deciding to pursue abachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, with a focus on political science, from Texas State University.

Bell, who is also a certified public manager from William P. Hobby School for Public Service, has served 26 years in public service.

As assistant to the city manager, Bell will be “part of the city’s management team and departments will not report to him,” De La Rosa said.

“In his new role, Bell will provide administrative support to the city manager on special projects, coordinate efforts to resolve citizen complaints, act as liaison between the city manager’s office and committees, analyze administrative problems in order to make sound recommendations for solutions and provide status reports on projects as well as other appointed assigned,” city spokeswoman Martha McClain stated.

“Mr. Bell’s administrative skills will help us better deal with our initiatives and meet the goals the city commission has established,” De La Rosa stated. “He is a true professional and works tirelessly to accommodate the citizens of this city.”

As the city’s new planning director, Rodriguez will supervise departments including code enforcement and animal control while overseeing community grants and programs.

Rodriguez, who took the job of downtown coordinator in April, has served as planning director with the city of Weslaco, where he also served as downtown manager, helping spearhead a revitalization project that led to the renovation of the Cortez Hotel.

In 1999, the Texas Main Street Program named Rodriguez its New Manager of the Year.

Rodriguez holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and government from the University of Texas-Pan American.

“Mr. Rodriguez, our new director of planning and development, is stepping up to serve a position in which he has great knowledge of the law and is a tremendous rapport in dealing with the public,” De La Rosa stated.

“He has previous experience as a successful municipal planning director and we expect to see many innovative measures to streamline the operations of the planning department, as well as that in the code compliance, stormwater and animal control departments” De La Rosa stated.

Fred Bell

  • Former planning director
  • New assistant to the city manager
  • Salary increased from $56,374 to $60,687
  • Bachelors, master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Texas State University
  • Certified public manager from William P. Hobby School for Public Service

Bernard Rodriguez

  • New planning director
  • Remains downtown coordinator
  • Salary increased from $45,000 to $55,000
  • 1999 Texas Main Street Program New Manager of the Year
  • Bachelor’s degree in political science and government from the University of Texas-Pan American