DOÑA ANA COUNTY, New Mexico - In a vote of 3 to 2, Doña Ana County Commissioners narrowly approved a 2.9 cost of living increase in the salary for the county manager on Tuesday.
Doña Ana County Manager Fernando Macias will now make more than $185,000 yearly, before benefits. (You can download a copy of the contract amendment below.)
"Fiscal responsibility is one of our mandates," said Commissioner Shannon Reynolds. "This is about as irresponsible as we can be in our position."
Commissioner Reynolds (District 3) and Commissioner Manny Sanchez (District 5) voted against the increase. Commissioners Isabella Solis (District 4), Ramon Gonzalez (District 2) and Lynn Ellins (District 1) voted in favor of the increase.
"We have been giving cost of living increases across the board this fiscal year," said Commissioner Ellins, who chairs the board. "It was just following the precedent that we established."
As the only commissioner who spoke before the public, Reynolds argued that Manager Macias has a higher salary than the state's governor and attorney general.
According to this state database, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham makes almost $110,000 a year and Attorney General Hector Balderas makes almost $95,000. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver makes $85,000 yearly.
Macias does make less than Bernalillo County Manager Julie Morgas Baca, who makes $195,000 yearly before benefits.
"We still have county employees that qualify for SNAP assistance (food stamps)," Reynolds said. "Until everyone in the county is making a living wage... I think that this is a slap directly in the face of the citizens who have elected us."
Manager Macias did not speak publicly and declined to comment on camera to ABC-7.