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2 highest paid El Paso city execs to get $20k in raises amid budget cuts and layoffs during pandemic

El Paso Matters
The sign out in front of El Paso City Hall.

EL PASO, Texas -- The two highest paid city of El Paso administrators are set to get more than $20,000 combined in raises coming up in September.

Those raises will come amid city budget cuts and ongoing furloughs due to the pandemic.

City manager Tommy Gonzalez has a current salary of more than $361,000 annually and is getting a 5% raise, which amounts to just over $18,000. Before the raise, he already made more than counterparts in larger cities such as Dallas and Phoenix.

City attorney Karla Nieman currently makes more than $256,000 a year thousand and is set to get a 2% raise, which would be in increase of $5,100.

Mayor Dee Margo said Wednesday that these are merit raises, based on job performance, which were built into the two contracts when they were approved last year by El Paso City Council.

Margo says both Nieman and Gonzalez had high ratings in a number of areas.

However, the city only released the mayor’s evaluation and did not disclose the evaluations from individual city council members.

ABC-7 archives show the city has released evaluations showing comments from every member of council on prior occasions.

Margo maintains the final performance ratings for the two were based on a consensus of the council, but the El Paso Times reported Wednesday that some council members felt their voices weren't heard.

"We had a meeting with all members of council, came up with a consensus. Irrespective of the fact that one or two council members may say their voices weren’t heard, that is factually incorrect," the mayor told ABC-7.

The Times also reported that council member Alexsandra Annello had a lot of concerns and felt the community’s voice was removed from the process.

She and other council members did not immediately respond to requests for comment from ABC-7.

Margo says the money for the salary hikes was budgeted for as part of the city's general fund, which is used, in part, to pay city employee salaries.

It is up to Nieman and Gonzalez if they decide to accept the raises.

The Times quoted Gonzalez as saying he planned to give his raise to a charity helping with Covid-19 relief efforts.

Meanwhile, the city has $69 million less in its budget for next year.

How that budget should be prioritized will be discussed during a virtual town hall being held by city officials on Aug. 12 at 6 p.m.

The public can participate in the meeting next Wednesday by either calling 915-213-4096 or clicking here and entering the Conference ID number: 524 559 903#

Article Topic Follows: El Paso

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Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the former Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.

Shelby Montgomery

Las Cruces native Shelby Montgomery is an ABC-7 reporter who also co-anchors Good Morning El Paso weekends.


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