San Benito gives EDC director 3-year contract, $5,000 raise

SAN BENITO — After a year on the job, the city’s economic development director has landed a three-year contract with a $5,000 raise.

Earlier this week, city commissioners extended Rebeca Castillo’s contract from one to three years, agreeing to consider annual raises of up to 5 percent upon “positive” job evaluations.

The contract boosts Castillo’s annual salary to $75,000, including a monthly $384 health insurance plan.

Last month, members of the city’s Economic Development Corporation ranked Castillo’s job performance, giving her 3.28 points out of a 4-point scale during her first evaluation.

“The San Benito EDC board based their unanimous decision on Mrs. Castillo’s work ethics and what has been accomplished during her tenure,” board President Julian Rios stated Thursday. “The three-year contract extension was proposed based on her background in economic development as a key to boosting the economic development in San Benito.”

Castillo said her new contract helps bring “stability” to the department. It had operated without a director since City Manager Manuel De La Rosa fired former Executive Director Salomon Torres in early 2016.

“It’s reassurance of their trust that we can continue to work together,” Castillo said of the board’s decision to extend her contract. “I think they realize the progress we’ve made in the last year. I appreciate they’ve entrusted me to move the EDC forward. With consistency and stability we can focus on the big picture.”

During her first year, her accomplishments included moving her department to new city-owned offices in which she plans to develop an incubator program aimed at helping local entrepreneurs start their own businesses, Castillo said.

Castillo also said investments helped the agency amass a $2.2 million fund balance to add to its $1.1 million budget.

“We have a more balanced, healthy budget,” she said. “When we have the opportunity to bring new development, we’ll have incentive money to compete with other communities.”

The contract

Under the contract, the board is required to conduct annual evaluations that could lead to 3- to 5-percent salary increases “at the discretion of the board.”

“The board further agrees to review the base salary and other benefits of the executive director at least annually,” the contract states.

According to the contract, the board could fire Castillo “for any reason at any time.

“The executive director shall serve at the pleasure of the board and nothing in this agreement shall prevent, limit or otherwise interfere in any way with the right of the board or the executive director to terminate the services of the executive director at any time, subject only to the applicable provisions of the SBEDC’s policies,” the contract states.

If she’s fired, the agency will pay “any amount owed to the executive director only for services completed or performed prior to the date of termination,” the contract states.

Job experience

In January 2019, Castillo took the job after working in economic development.

Before serving four years as executive director of Brownsville’s Community Improvement Corporation, a city economic development arm, Castillo served as director of the Harlingen and San Benito Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Castillo’s experience also includes work as Brownsville’s Metro transportation system’s Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator and as the Cameron County Health Department’s human resources specialist.

She holds a bachelor of arts degree in government from the University of Texas at Brownsville and a master’s degree in public administration from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.