El Paso City Manager and City Lawyer to Receive Pay Raise After Assessments
The best earners in the city of El Paso, city manager Tommy Gonzalez and city lawyer Karla Nieman, are awaiting pay increases.
After receiving positive performance reviews in 2021 from Mayor Oscar Leeser and members of the city council, the two city employees are entitled to increases in accordance with their contracts.
Gonzalez is eligible for a 5% pay rise, which would take his salary to $ 398,401, while Nieman is eligible for a 2% salary increase, which would bring his salary to $ 266,641.
Gonzalez and Nieman are among the highest earners in El Paso municipal government, while El Pasoans’ median income is below $ 25,000 per year and below the national median by over $ 7,000, data shows from the US Census Bureau.
Gonzalez’s salary increase puts him at $ 1,599 to earn as much as the President of the United States, who earns a salary of $ 400,000 a year. Compared to the rulers of big cities, Gonzalez leaves behind the mayors of Chicago and New York.
New York City, with a population of over 8.4 million, pays its current mayor, Bill de Blasio, nearly $ 260,000. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is reportedly earning $ 261,210 a year.
It is not known if Gonzalez and Nieman agreed to their pay increases. The El Paso Times has contacted the city for comment, but had not yet received a response within the deadline.
Prior to their appraisals, Gonzalez’s salary was almost $ 380,000 and Nieman’s was over $ 261,000.
City withholds documents with individual evaluations
In the past, the city of El Paso has released documents showing the notes of the mayor and city council officials. This is the second year in a row that the city has retained these documents.
Channel 9-KTSM obtained a copy of Nieman and Gonzalez’s reviews on Wednesday. However, the city only released one review for Gonzalez and Nieman, which contained the average scores of all reviewers.
Gonzalez was rated on a scale of one to four in three areas. The Nieman scale ranged from one to five, with ratings in seven areas. Overall, both scored high, with Gonzalez receiving a 3.81 rating and Nieman a 4.18 rating.
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City manager felt he exceeded expectations
A narrative summary and assessment of the assessment, written by an unknown author, said Gonzalez “continues to meet and exceed all 3 categories: city-wide goals, core values ââand leadership assessment.”
“The city manager understands the workings of a great city and is good at setting goals, achieving those goals and maintaining a safe community with a strategic plan for the future,” the summary said. “His rating of 3.81 reflects Council’s assessment of his performance as exceeding expectations and we look forward to another year of working with the City Manager.”
For Core Values, Gonzalez received perfect marks of 4.0 for Excellence and Responsibility; in respect and people, he received scores of 3.67 – lower, but still high.
Gonzalez received three goals as part of his professional development plan.
The first objective, which focuses on public health, wants Gonzalez to “build on the successes and achievements of the management of the city of El Paso” by focusing on how best to use resources to maximize public health efficiency.
The second goal, focused on public safety, tells Gonzalez to “continue the work of the El Paso Strong (resolution) cross-functional team” and provide city council with updates and recommendations on a quarterly basis.
The third, collaborative goal is for Gonzalez to pursue collaborative opportunities for city staff and city council through a retreat “for the city manager, his team and the city council in the fall of 2021.”
Nieman has been assessed as âeffectivelyâ representing the interests of the city when it comes to dealing with court decisions. Nieman was also applauded for hiring and developing deputy municipal lawyers to help represent the city.
Nieman’s goals for the coming year include updating document management technology to increase efficiency in his office to help inform people of changes in laws, extend updates to the city ââcouncil for administrative matters, continue to provide recommendations to city council on issues and continue to deal with high profile and demanding legal matters involving public services.
Molinar calls for changes in assessment format and rating scales
Of the eight city council members, two responded to El Paso Times requests for comment: city officials Joe Molinar and Isabel Salcido.
âThe ratings reflect an average of the mayor’s and council’s opinions, and I think the scores speak for themselves,â Salcido said in a statement. âOverall, Mr. Gonzalez has done a very good job executing the direction of the Board, and Ms. Nieman has provided us with solid advice. Both have done well during a very difficult year, and I look forward to another year of working with them under better circumstances as El Paso emerges from the pandemic. “
Not everyone shared a positive view of evaluations. Molinar said the format and rating scales of the reviews need to be revised for Gonzalez and Nieman.
“It appears that the City Manager’s performance appraisal form is tailor-made for him and him only,” Molinar said.
The Times contacted city officials Peter Svarzbein, Cassandra Hernandez, Alexsandra Annello, Claudia Lizette Rodriguez, Henry Rivera and Cissy Lizarraga, Mayor Oscar Leeser and Gonzalez for comment, but received no response within the deadline.