San Benito city manager’s work takes focus - Valley Morning Star : Local News

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San Benito city manager’s work takes focus

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Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2018 12:45 am

SAN BENITO — Less than three months after some city commissioners wanted to fire him, City Manager Manuel De La Rosa’s job performance is up for review.

Tomorrow, commissioners are expected to evaluate De La Rosa’s work based upon his contract’s requirements.

Under the contract, “above-satisfactory” evaluations come with annual $5,000 pay increases.

The amount of De La Rosa’s current salary is unclear.

In December 2015, he was hired at a salary of $95,000.

A year later, commissioners approved a contract running through January 2020 which set his salary at $110,000.

De La Rosa’s last evaluation came in January, when commissioners gave him strong marks on his job performance.

That evaluation scored De La Rosa’s performance from 1 to 5, based on issues facing the city.

The issues included financial stability, assuring the city’s old water plant produces good drinking water, resolution of a lawsuit against companies involved in the construction of the $17 million water plant cited as improperly operating, providing accurate information to the community and commission, streamlining city staff, installation of street lights at San Benito Plaza, maintaining professional work ethic, reducing costs of upgrading the city water plant and launching Southside’s Park’s first phase.

Through most of his tenure, De La Rosa has appeared to have commission’s support.

Now, Commissioners Rene Villafranco and Carol Lynn Sanchez apparently continue to stand behind him.

However, De La Rosa’s support has been wavering.

In September, Commissioners Tony Gonzales and Rick Guerra called a meeting to discuss firing him.

After the closed-door session, De La Rosa apparently withstood the push.

Factors behind the drive to fire him appeared unclear.

However, three weeks before Gonzales and Guerra called the meeting to discuss his termination, Mayor Ben Gomez expressed concern when De La Rosa said he and top administrators did not know the city had a tax increment financing zone which had generated more than $1 million since its establishment in 2008.

In a recent interview, De La Rosa said he had been aware of the tax zone but did not know the city was expected to annually report its revenues to Cameron County.

Yesterday, city spokeswoman Martha McClain did not respond to a message requesting De La Rosa’s current salary.

Earlier this year, De La Rosa did not disclose his current salary, only stating his contract renewed Feb. 1, 2017, gave him a salary of $110,000.

De La Rosa’s salary lags behind the average salary of city managers of cities with populations similar to those of San Benito, McClain has stated.

According to the Texas Municipal League, city managers in like-sized cities draw average salaries of $154,000.

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