City Manager Tommy Gonzalez will get an approximately $890,000 payout as his severance package after being fired earlier this year.
Gonzalez’s severance package is calculated based on his employment contract which was terminated in February. Gonzalez’s pay has grown to about $442,000 a year, which includes three pay raises within the last year.
The City Council Tuesday voted unanimously to approve the severance pay as part of his separation agreement.
City Rep. Brian Kennedy, who partially led the effort to terminate Gonzalez’s contract, was not present for the vote.
City Rep. Cassandra Hernandez, who voted against terminating the city manager’s contract, asked for the amount of severance pay to be disclosed to the public.
Gonzalez was not at the meeting. His last day is June 29.
“Mr. Gonzalez is not here today. I was really hoping that we had an opportunity to give him his farewell, but unfortunately, that was cut short,” Hernandez said.
Mayor Oscar Leeser said the payout was not as large as it could have been.
“If I’m not mistaken, I mean, let’s be really honest,” Leeser said. “If I’m not mistaken, this payout would have been greater every year till the last day he worked for the city of El Paso.”
Gonzalez was hired in 2014 to replace Joyce Wilson. His starting salary was $238,959.
His controversial employment agreement included multiple benefits that were added since 2014. Those benefits cost taxpayers about $269,000 annually and include a $5 million life insurance policy, paid travel and expenses for an annual health exam in Dallas as well as follow-up visits and multiple lucrative retirement benefits.
In October, his contract was amended to include a clause that the city could terminate Gonzalez “without good cause.”
Gonzalez’s severance included 12 months of his base salary, in addition to six months of unused vacation and six months of sick leave.
The clause also stipulated that Gonzalez’s severance pay included salary increases he would have received for the year.
Cary Westin is serving as interim city manager until a permanent replacement is hired. Westin is being paid $320,000 per year until a permanent city manager is hired. He is also receiving a $400 monthly car allowance and $250 monthly expense allowance.