San Benito postpones action on proposed job cuts

Downtown San Benito
SAN BENITO — Questions surround City Manager Manuel De La Rosa’s proposal to cut some employee hours and furlough part-time workers.
Earlier this week, city commissioners postponed action on the proposals calling for resolutions supporting the reduction of some employees’ hours from 40 to 32 a week and the placement of part-time workers on furlough.
The proposal comes after officials closed public buildings such as the library to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
During Tuesday’s meeting, De La Rosa was expected to propose the budget cuts during open session. But during the meeting he decided to discuss the plan with commissioners in closed session.
After the meeting, Mayor Ben Gomez announced commissioners didn’t take action on the proposals. On Wednesday, Gomez could not be reached for comment while Commissioner Tony Gonzales said he couldn’t comment on the proposals because discussions were held in closed session.
Before the meeting, Gonzales said he opposed the plan because employees faced tough times after businesses shut down as a result of federal guidelines and state and local orders limiting gathering sizes aimed at preventing the spread of the virus. Gonzales also questioned the reason commissioners were requested to vote on the proposal because De La Rosa’s job includes overseeing city employees.
On Wednesday, city spokeswoman Martha McClain did not respond to messages requesting information on the number of employees whose hours would be cut and the number of part-time workers who faced furloughs.

McClain also did not respond to messages requesting the reason behind the proposed cuts.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Armando Sanchez, an auditor with the certified public accounting firm of Cascos & Associates, warned the city faced a drop in sales tax revenue as a result of the economic shutdown stemming from state and local orders aimed at preventing the virus’ spread.

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

At the time, McClain said those employees had been assigned to other city jobs.