LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - The City of Las Cruces has settled three separate lawsuits with former employees at a cost of $1.46 million to the taxpayers, according to records obtained by ABC-7.
"We're just trying to cut our losses and deal with it this way," admitted Mayor Ken Miyagishima. "The bottom line is, the city takes responsibility."
"We hope that it was fair, objective and equitable," said Councilwoman Kasandra Gandara, who represents district one. "We wanted to make sure that we could settle outside of court."
According to those records:
- Former purchasing manager Debra Smith settled for $335,477.94
- Former accounting manager Maria Villa settled for $536,764.69
- Former city auditor Audrey Evins settled for $587,757.35
The grand total cost to taxpayers: $1,459,999.98.
All three employees sued for alleged wrongful termination under former city manager Stuart Ed, who left in April 2019.
"I can't comment on any legal proceedings," Ed told ABC-7. "That's best addressed to the city of Las Cruces."
"They should have taken care of their employees before they had to go through all this money just to give away," said Art Coca, a Las Cruces resident and taxpayer.
"We all pay taxes," said Israel Dominguez, another Las Cruces resident. "That's always coming out of our pockets... do we really have a say in it? I don't think so."