El Paso City Manager Tommy Gonzalez’s contract, which does not expire until 2024, was extended to 2029 on Monday by the El Paso City Council, after they removed a clause approved last week that would have allowed them to increase his pay.
The City Council voted 6-2 in favor of the contract extension, after dropping an effort to override Mayor Oscar Leeser’s veto of the previous contract extension approved last week on a 5-3 vote. The latest motion no longer included the clause that would have allowed them to raise his salary up to $450,000. However, Gonzalez’s contract still includes provisions for merit increases and other future pay raises.
Gonzalez’s base pay currently is $404,377.
Leeser said he opposed the extension approved Monday, but the six votes in favor of the contract extension are enough to override a veto. The council voted 5-3, during a special meeting last week, to extend his contract and to possibly increase his pay. It takes six votes to override a mayoral veto.
City Rep. Claudia Rodriguez, who had opposed last week’s contract extension and possible pay raise, voted in favor of Monday’s contract extension.
City Reps. Alexsandra Annello and Joe Molinar voted both times against the contract extension.
Leeser’s veto came two days after the City Council voted to extend Gonzalez’s contract and to boost his salary after he was named a finalist for the city manager position in Frisco, Texas. Gonzalez withdrew his bid for the Frisco job May 16, the day the City Council voted to boost his contract benefits.
Gonzalez may still receive an annual 5% merit increase after his annual evaluation as well as across-the-board pay raises, service time increases and any other new benefits other non-collective bargaining city employees receive and annual market-based reviews of his base salary, according to his contract.
His annual evaluation is set to be conducted in June, but the council has started meeting in executive session to discuss it.
Dozens of people spoke during Monday’s public comment portion of the council meeting, some in support of the city manager’s contract changes and some who encouraged City Council to let the veto stand.
“If the city manager wants to go, he can go,” Victor Rodriguez said. “If he wants to leave and he is currently using this to make more money and extend his contract then he took the wrong route.”
Sylvia Acosta, CEO of the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region, said during public comment that she supports Gonzalez and his work with local nonprofits.
“He has been an ally to the nonprofit community even before the pandemic,” Acosta said. “He never took the nonprofit community for granted and is always responsive to the needs of the community organizations.”
The city manager has received multiple boosts to his employment contract since he was hired in 2014 to replace Joyce Wilson. Those changes have led to his salary growing about 69% in the last eight years from $238,959 to the current $404,377.
The council is also discussing City Attorney Karla Nieman’s contract and annual evaluation.