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San Benito won’t extend contract as city manager looks elsewhere

January 12, 2019

SAN BENITO — City commissioners won’t stop City Manager Manuel De La Rosa from taking a new job.

But if he fails to land the city manager’s job in Del Rio next week, they might consider extending his contract, which runs through January 2020.

Apparently they would not consider renegotiating his contract until the end of the year.

“ To renegotiate his contract right now is too early,” Commissioner Rick Guerra said yesterday. “Why do we want to renegotiate right now if he still has a whole year?

“ We’ll look at it in December or January. We’ll see how the city’s doing then.”

Earlier this week, De La Rosa noted commissioners have not extended his contract.

De La Rosa stated Wednesday he was “in the last year of my employment contract, unless the city commission wishes to extend it.”

In Del Rio, the city council has selected De La Rosa as one of two finalists for the city manager’s job.

On Jan. 16, Del Rio’s council is expected to decide whether to give the job to De La Rosa or Mathew Wojnowski, the assistant city manager of Altus, Okla., who currently serves as interim city manager.

Yesterday, Mayor Ben Gomez and Commissioners Rene Villafranco and Carol Lynn Sanchez did not respond to messages requesting comment on whether they would consider extending De La Rosa’s contract.

Gomez has reportedly stated he would consider renegotiating the contract — on the condition he works to significantly move the city forward during the year.

Gonzales: No extension

But Commissioner Tony Gonzales said he would not extend De La Rosa’s contract.

“ I have a problem with him — he doesn’t respect me,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales said De La Rosa does not provide him with information on the city’s operation.

“ He does not let me know what’s going on,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales said he would not stop De La Rosa from taking the Del Rio job.

“ He’s not happy here,” Gonzales said. “He has been making applications all over the place — and he’s wanting to renegotiate his contract?”

De La Rosa’s support

De La Rosa has apparently been searching for a job amid commissioners’ waning support.

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

After the closed-door session, Gomez announced commissioners chose to take no action.

But just last month, commissioners gave De La Rosa an “above-average” evaluation, which triggered a $5,000 pay increase.

While Gomez, Villafranco and Sanchez gave him high marks on his job performance, Gonzales and Guerra did not approve of his work.

Low salary

Throughout his tenure, commissioners have given De La Rosa evaluations that have led to annual $5,000 raises.

But De La Rosa likely wants more than a contract extension.

After three years on the job, his salary lags behind the average salary of city managers of cities with populations similar to that of San Benito.

In December 2015, De La Rosa was hired at a salary of $95,000.

After last month’s pay increase, his salary stands at $120,000.

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

Yesterday, Del Rio City Secretary Biatris Vela did not have information readily available on the city manager job’s salary range.

fdelvalle@valleystar.com

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