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KFOX14 INVESTIGATES: EPPD Union calls city manager contract 'slap in the face' to officers

Tommy Gonzalez

On Friday, KFOX14 Investigates exclusively learned City Manager Tommy Gonzalez could be in for another raise and other perks as the city looks to solidify a new agreement.

The employment agreement comes in the final days of the current council and in advance of his contract renewal, which would happen in June 2019.

KFOX14 Investigates received an advance copy of the proposed agreement.

The new agreement keeps his base salary at a little more than $330, 000. The agreement includes merit increases equal to 5 percent of the manager's base salary. That could bring his salary increase to nearly $350,000 if his contract is renewed in June 2019.

He also receives a $6,000 car allowance annually. It’s divided up into biweekly payments.

The agreement also states he’s eligible to receive across-the-board pay increases or similar pay increases City Council provides to other administrative employees. He’s also eligible for “service time” pay.

The agreement also adds that the city will conduct market-based reviews of total compensation for city managers in “comparison cities.” The provision adds if the manger's base salary is below the average base salary of the comparison salaries, Gonzalez’s base salary will be increased to the amount of the average base salary in the comparison cities.

City Rep. Dr. Sam Morgan said Gonzalez is currently above the average in how his compensation stacks up against other cities.

Gonzalez is seeking reimbursement totaling $60,000 for legal fees from past ethics complaints.

He's also asking for $100,000 in reimbursements for any future legal fees arising from ethics complaints.

The city manager is also seeking additional health benefits for exams in Dallas.

The city would be responsible for all of the costs, including travel to Dallas for his treatment, and for accommodations.

"Don't tell my officers who have lost limbs and are still working, don't tell my officers who have been shot or lost loved ones, that they don't deserve the same thing,” said EPPD union president Ron Martin.

This comes as the city looks to increase the cost of health insurance for police officers.

"They do look at it as a slap in the face," said Martin.

The union is conducting negotiations for its contract with the city.

Martin said he has officers who are considering retiring because they can't afford the increase.

“I have almost 300 officers right now who can retire today. I am trying to retain them for as long as possible because we are hurting for officers,” said Martin.

Martin said officers want a 2 percent raise to offset the increase in health insurance.

On Monday, KFOX14 Investigates spoke to Morgan who chairs the Finance Oversight Committee.

"We are setting ourselves up for success. There is nothing wrong with what we are doing here to ensure that come June we are not trying to jump hoops to make this happen," said Morgan.

He added, "The city manager's contract with the city is not up for public discussion, it's not."

KFOX14 responded, "Don't taxpayers have the right to know how their money is being spent?"

Morgan replied, "Of course they do, but he (Gonzalez) has some right to some privacy as well."

City Rep. Sam Morgan said the agreement isn't new but instead solidifies the language.

"It was already there, it's been there for the last four years,” said Morgan.

KFOX14Investigates pulled up Gonzalez's 2014 contract and amendments that were made to it.

There's nothing that specifically references accommodations for health-related travel or legal fees.

But there is a line for "reasonable expenses" incurred as city manager.

"We are going to take care of our executives the way we should take care of them and make sure we aren't making promises we aren't delivering on," said Morgan.

The El Paso Police Union president said police officers are not reacting well to the employee agreement.

"Don't tell me you don't have the money for my officers," said Martin. Martin said the union could end up taking its contract negotiations to the voters, the way the firefighters did in 2015.

Gonzalez's employment agreement is expected to go before council Tuesday. We reached out to all city council reps Monday to see whether they support the agreement, no one would comment on the record.

How to contact your city representative.

District 1
Peter Svarzbein
915-212-0001
Email: district1@elpasotexas.gov

District 2
Alexsandra Annello
915-212-0002
Email: district2@elpasotexas.gov

District 3
Cassandra Brown
915-212-2003
Email: district3@elpasotexas.gov

District 4
Sam Morgan
915-212-0004
Email: district4@elpasotexas.gov

District 5
Dr. Michiel Noe
915-212-0005
Email: district5@elpasotexas.gov

District 6
Claudia Ordaz-Perez
915-212-0006
Email: district6@elpasotexas.gov

District 7
Henry Rivera
915-212-0007
Email: district7@elpasotexas.gov

District 8
Cissy Lazarraga
915-212-0008
Email: district8@elpasotexas.gov

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