Mayor, Commissioners propose employee raises

Staff Writer

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At a recent meeting of the San Benito City Commission, the mayor and elected officials asked City Manager Manuel Lara to reassess the 2014-2015 proposed budget, in an effort to potentially offer City employees a pay raise as high as five percent.

“The elected officials and Mayor asked me to provide a couple of percentages,” said Lara. “Numbers for (potential) three percent and five percent raises (are being considered).”

Lara said once provided with the numbers, “they will look at total amount of funds required for whatever percentage raise they decide” to give employees.

Mayor Celeste Sanchez said, although City employees received a $0.50 raise last year, she feels another raise is well-deserved. “We appreciate our employees and we realize the cost of living goes up every year. While we know that we are not paying competitively (with regard) to the wealthier cities, we certainly want to maintain (retention among) our good employees.”

Last year, there were no specific requirements for an employee to meet in order to receive the raise, i.e. years working for the City, position held, present salary, etc. Lara explained, “All City employees received a raise last year. I had initially set (the raise) up on a matrix system, but they (elected officials) asked to provide everybody a uniform raise across the board, including all City staff.”

Additionally, other budget concerns are being proposed and addressed at this time. “We’re still in workshop mode, depending on what else (officials) ask us to look into. We probably won’t have approval until September,” said Lara. “We’re still working (with the) first draft of the balanced budget.”

Lara said the City will vie to make this year’s budget comparable to last year’s, although at least a few slight changes have been proposed thus far. He said the City is anticipating a $200,000 increase in general funds, while he expects to see a slight reduction in utility funds.

Furthermore, Lara stated the City will hold several special workshops in the weeks to come in order to address specific budget-related topics. He said, “We have a calendar of schedule meetings scheduled in August, most of which are special. There, (officials) can tell us what (items) they would like us to consider, remove or have second thoughts about.”

At a special workshop slated for 5:30 p.m. Aug. 18, the Commission will vote to approve the potential raise for employees. San Benitians who are interested in viewing the budget—not yet in its final draft—can do so at the City Municipal Building during working hours.


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    • The Negotiator on August 20, 2014 at 1:20 pm
    • Reply

    Yes I agree with you on the customer service here is San Benito. Someone needs to teach these people a thing or two about good customer service. I have gone in there myself and yes they treat you with no respect or like its a bother for them to help you. It just goes to show whoever is in charge must have the same attitude,because like the saying goes attitude reflects leadership. In this day in time you would think jobs are scarce and yet some people still don’t get it.

    • Robin on August 20, 2014 at 7:32 am
    • Reply

    Ms. Sanchez cannot make these changes by herself. The commissioners have to want a change… we will see.
    I agree about the Police Department. They have been helpful to my family when we needed to call them.
    If anyone deserves a cost of living raise, it is the police, fire department and the staff. Certainly not the administrators.
    While I am typing: Ms. Sanchez, please get the Water Department some help on how to provide customer service. I was treated like a second class citizen when I had to talk to them and this was in person and on the phone. Their customer service would be rated a negative number on a scale of 1-5. I don’t know who is in charge of them, but please pass the word.
    Thank you.

    • DA TRUTH on August 19, 2014 at 7:42 pm
    • Reply

    Also every time they give the employees a raise for some odd reason they all of a sudden they have to pay more for there health insurance then why even give them anything first they give them 50 cent but then have to pay three dollars more in insurance if I’m not mistaking a labor gets paid 8.88 an hour which is around 1200 after taxes a month some of the elected officials mortage is around that amount remember they are the ones that keep the city working and looking good let’s give back to the labor cause without them the city wont look and work the same 1200 a month is a joke I’m pretty sure they have families to feed 500 in rent 300 in food 150 water 160 light gas,60 phone do the math these guys live check by check that isn’t a way they should live after the hard work they put in

      • Give me a break ! on August 19, 2014 at 9:13 pm
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      We need more workers and fewer administrators. We need better paid and more police! Our police department is one of the lowest paid in South Texas! We’ve had the same number of police on the street that we had 20 years ago! We probably have 1/3 more administrators in the same time frame!
      You can be sure the administrators will tow the line on any budget increases that would provide a livable wage for people that risk their lives yet will always support raises for themselves. Makes no sense.
      The Mayor has her work cut out as she tries to change the compadrismo and everyone for themselves mentality.

    • Pay A LIVING WAGE on August 16, 2014 at 11:22 am
    • Reply

    According ot the Economic Policy Institute it takes $58,571 in order for a family of 4 in CAMERON COUNTY, TEXAS to attain a secure yet modest living standard. The calculations are done by estimating community-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes.
    Why don’t we start in SAN BENITO by paying a LIVING WAGE for City workers…BUT start at the bottom of the pay scale, NOT at the TOP!
    A living wage is the hourly rate that an individual must earn to support their family, if they are the sole provider and are working full-time (2080 hours per year). The state minimum wage is the same for all individuals, regardless of how many dependents they may have.
    Currently while some of the City administrators make nearly 6 figure incomes while the average laborers (some have with the City for 20 years and more) still get barely above minimum wage!
    The administration is full of unqualified people that only got their jobs by compadrismo or being the girlfriend of an administrator. The real work at the City gets paid the least!
    Take a look …

    Living Wage Calculation for Cameron County, Texas (MIT)

    Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator

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