EL PASO, Texas -- While El Paso Mayor Dee Margo recently gave evaluations to the city's two highest paid administrators that qualify them for more than $20,000 in combined raises, he said Tuesday that he's urged the pair not to accept those payments come September.
"Upon completion of evaluations for the City Manager and City Attorney, I formally advised that now is not the time to accept a pay increase," Margo tweeted late Tuesday morning.
City manager Tommy Gonzalez has a current salary of more than $361,000 annually and will get 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.
Those raises will come amid city budget cuts and ongoing furloughs due to the coronavirus pandemic, something the mayor said Tuesday that he was keenly aware of.
"We are in the midst of a pandemic with a significant impact on our economy. I am mindful of the budget shortfall and the many employees who have been furloughed. Although contractually eligible for a raise, acceptance lies with the City Manager and City Attorney," the mayor wrote, seemingly suggesting that the Gonzalez and Nieman forgo the increases.
When the raises were first disclosed publicly last week, Gonzalez talked of potentially donating his money to charity, while Neiman did not comment on her plans.
The mayor's tweets Tuesday marked the first time he indicated advising the pair against accepting the pay hikes.
Margo reiterated Tuesday that these are merit raises, based on job performance; he previously noted that Gonzalez and Nieman received high ratings in a number of areas.
Margo said the increases were built into the contracts for the manager and attorney when they were approved by City Council on a 6-2 vote in late 2018.
You read the mayor's entire twitter thread on the topic below.
2/ We are in the midst of a pandemic with a significant impact on our economy. I am mindful of the budget shortfall and the many employees who have been furloughed. Although contractually eligible for a raise, acceptance lies with the City Manager and City Attorney.— Mayor Dee Margo (@mayor_margo) August 11, 2020
4/ I am proud to be the Mayor of El Paso, and will hold City Leadership accountable as we continue to persevere for a stronger El Paso. #MayorMargo— Mayor Dee Margo (@mayor_margo) August 11, 2020