By J. NOEL ESPINOZA
Special to the NEWS
San Benito City Manager Manuel De La Rosa was one of three people interviewed for the City Manager position in Edinburg earlier this month according to media reports. The other two men interviewed were Interim Edinburg City Manager Richard Hinojosa and Ron Garza, current executive director for the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council (LRGVDC). Ultimately, Edinburg’s city council appointed Garza as City Manager.
“No, I already answered, I’m not speaking about anything at this time,” De La Rosa said when asked whether he was actively seeking another job. “I don’t answer any questions at this time.”
De La Rosa, who has been San Benito City Manager since 2016, received a $5,000 raise from his annual salary of $115,000 in December 2018 after City Commissioners evaluated him as “above satisfactory.”
Two commissioners, Rene Villafranco and Carol Lynn Sanchez, voted favorably of De La Rosa in his evaluation. In contrast, commissioners Rick Guerra and Antonio Gonzales voted unfavorably, opposed to the raise. Mayor Benjamin Gomez was the tie-breaker who voted in favor of De La Rosa’s raise.
Early last year, City Commissioners extended De La Rosa’s contract for three years and gave him another $5,000 raise, increasing his annual salary to $125,000.
Again, Villafranco and Sanchez voted in favor of the contract extension while Guerra voted against it. Neither mayor Gomez nor commissioner Gonzales, who was in De La Rosa’s contract extension took place after it was reported that he was seeking a similar position in Del Rio, Texas, which he did not receive.
According to a NEWS article published in March 2019, De La Rosa said he was job searching because he was in the last year of his contract. “I recognize that I’m in the last year of my employment contract unless the City Commission wishes to extend it. I know from experience that it can take from six months to a year to find a similar position in another city,” he said at the time.
The NEWS asked City Attorney Mark Sossi whether there was a breach of contract, but as of press time, he has not offered a response.
Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length. To read the full story, click here or make sure to grab a copy of the Feb. 28 – March. 5, 2020 issue of the NEWS.