SAN BENITO — After more than four years, City Manager Manuel De La Rosa continues to draw high marks for his job performance while facing criticism.
Earlier this week, Mayor Ben Gomez and City Commissioner ReneVillafranco gave De La Rosa a favorable job evaluation despite Commissioner Tony Gonzales’ longtime criticism of his performance.
Under De La Rosa’s contract, an “above-satisfactory” evaluation automatically triggers a $5,000 pay increase.
After meeting in closed session for about 12 minutes, Gomez announced commissioners had given De La Rosa an “above-average” evaluation, prompting a pay increase.
Commissioner Carol Lynn Sanchez, who supports De La Rosa, was absent.
“He did score above-average on all categories therefore he does get his raise on his contract,” Gomez said.
As part of an agreement, De La Rosa is delaying his pay increase until Aug. 1.
“He’s still going to get that money but we’re waiting till Aug. 1,” Gomez said.
After his announcement, Gomez raised his voice as Gonzales pointed to a concern stemming from the Commission’s evaluations.
“We gave you a copy last time of the contract because you requested and you got the copy of the contract so you read that contract so you know what’s in the contract,” Gomez told Gonzales.
Gomez asked Gonzales to turn up his microphone to address his concern.
Meanwhile, Gomez’s voice rose as Gonzales spoke.
“This is a personal vendetta that you’ve got,” Gomez told Gonzales. “You evaluated the man. You made your evaluation. You’ve got your numbers there.”
On Wednesday, Gonzales did not respond to attempts to reach him by phone.
Throughout De La Rosa’s tenure, Gonzales has said the city manager fails to respond to his concerns.
Soon after taking the job in December 2015, De La Rosa has counted on support from Gomez, Villafranco and Sanchez.
In September 2018, Gonzales and former Commissioner Rick Guerra led a failed push to fire De La Rosa.
Last year, commissioners gave De La Rosa a three-year contract extension, boosting his annual salary to $125,000.
Still, after four years De La Rosa’s salary continues to rank among the state’s lowest for city managers overseeing like-sized cities.
For more than a year, De La Rosa has looked for another job.
In February, he lost a bid to land Edinburg’s city manager’s job, for which he was a finalist.
In January 2019, he fell short of taking Del Rio’s city manager’s job, for which he was the runner-up.