San Benito mulls cutting employee hours, furloughing part-time workers

SAN BENITO — City commissioners on Tuesday will consider cutting some employees’ hours while placing part-time workers on furlough after shutting down some public buildings.

In a meeting, City Manager Manuel De La Rosa is expected to propose passing a resolution supporting the reduction of some employees’ hours from 40 to 32 a week while placing part-time workers on furlough.

Last month, officials closed parks and some buildings, such as the public library, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

At the time, city spokeswoman Martha McClain said those employees had been reassigned.

On Monday, De La Rosa and McClain did not respond to messages requesting information on the number of employees whose hours would be cut or the number of part-time workers who would be furloughed.

Mayor Ben Gomez did not respond to a message requesting comment.

However, Commissioner Tony Gonzales said he opposed the proposal coming after many businesses closed to comply with federal guidelines and state and local orders aimed at reducing gathering sizes and promoting social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“I’m against that,” Gonzales said of the proposal. “They need the money. Everybody needs money right now. It’s the worst time.”

Why ask city commissioners?

The reason commissioners are voting on the proposal is unclear because De La Rosa’s job includes overseeing employees.

“That’s a part of his job. He’s in charge of workers. But we want to say something about it,” Gonzales said, referring to the proposal.

About three weeks ago, officials began closing public buildings such as the library, the San Benito Cultural and Heritage Center and the Community Center, along with city parks.

Meanwhile, Harlingen city officials are not considering cutting employee hours or placing workers on furlough, city spokeswoman Irma Garza said.

Instead, officials have reassigned those employees, she said.