Saturday voting to decide pay issue for city council after weak early voter turnout

Eagle Pass, TX - City of Eagle Pass voters will decide Saturday whether the mayor and city council representatives should be compensated with hefty salaries to be borne off taxpayers’ backs.


Of six city charter amendments up for consideration this is the issue capturing the most interest among voters, but seven days of early voting resulted in disappointingly low turnout leaving the outcome of the election very much in the hands of voters who make it out to the polls on Saturday.


Early voting amounted to just an estimated 1,400 votes over the seven-day period and brisk activity on Friday accounted for a good number of this turnout.


Proposition B calls for voters to decide if the mayor should be paid a salary up 60 percent of the that paid to the city manager and whether council persons should be paid up to 40% of the top hired hand’s pay. Currently the City of Eagle Pass is advertising for a city manager at a pay scale of up $140,000 a year. Translating that into the proposition the mayor is asking for a salary up $84,000 a year and council members want to be paid up to $56,000.


As presented on the ballot the proposition estimates, if passed, these salaries will cost taxpayers $300,000, but at the maximum percentages the check comes $308,000 and that is before fringe benefits which are added to employees’ at as much as 38% for another $117,000 annual cost to taxpayers.


Currently the mayor and councilpersons are paid a token $10 a month fee for their service and noted most cities have now gone to paying their council representatives a salary. However, communities similar in size to Eagle Pass still generally pay not much more than token wages with some in the area paying $200 per month.


Among the other propositions on Saturday’s ballot are amendments to the city charter that could more easily and appropriately be accomplished through city council setting policy. Among these is a requirement that the city manager present updates to the 5-year master plan on an annual basis and bringing the city secretary position under direct control of the council while giving council veto power over the city manager’s selections for department heads. Yet another proposition calls for the creation of a legal department with the City of Eagle Pass and under supervision of council, which in effect already exists through contracting for a city attorney.


One other charter amendment proposition that would create substantial new expense for the taxpayer is adding two new council positions once the census cracks through the 30,000 level. This is expected to occur with the 2020 census and the additional costs to taxpayers every year would rise by another near $157,000.


Finally, the city council is also proposing to charge a $600 fee for persons wishing to run for a council seat with some exceptions and considerations depending on a potential candidate submitting a petition of support for his/her candidacy. Opponents of the proposed charter amendments are recommending votes AGAINST as they view the proposals as a greedy power grab.


Saturday’s poll is open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Multi-Purpose Center located in Ft. Duncan Park next to the Camino Real International bridge.

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