McAllen budget proposal includes $450 bonus for city workers

City Manager Roy Rodriguez recommended Tuesday that McAllen reward city workers with a $450 bonus next fiscal year, but avoid an across-the-board raise.

City Manager Roy Rodriguez recommended Tuesday that McAllen reward city workers with a $450 bonus next fiscal year, but avoid an across-the-board raise.

The bonus — what city administrators call a “one-time disbursement” — would allow McAllen to reward hardworking employees without committing to a permanent pay increases.

Making $450 payments to full-time employees and $225 payments to part-time employees would cost McAllen about $618,000, according to a city analysis. McAllen would also pay an average of $249 to police department employees covered by the union contract, which would cost another $110,000.

“They deserve more than that,” Rodriguez said. “But we don’t have it.”

Faced with a shaky retail economy, Rodriguez said he didn’t feel comfortable recommending an across-the-board raise.

“So this is the way for us to be able to do something for the employee,” Rodriguez said. “And it’s not a recurring cost. It’s one-time.”

Texas law prevents local governments from rewarding employees with bonuses after work is completed, but allows local governments to adjust employee compensation during the budget process, according to the Texas Municipal League website. During the workshop, Rodriguez referred to the payment as an “one-time adjustment.”

The cost projections for McAllen’s “one-time adjustment” include payments to the Texas Municipal Retirement System and payroll taxes.

While the City Commission also discussed merit-based pay adjustments, Mayor Jim Darling said he didn’t sense any serious opposition to $450 payments for every employee.

“I didn’t see any real objections to it,” Darling said, adding that merit-based pay adjustments present their own problems — starting with the design and proper execution of a formal evaluation process for employees.

Rodriguez proposed the one-time payments during a workshop at the Palm View Golf Course, where the City Commission reviewed the draft budget for 2017-2018.

The balanced, nearly $111 million general fund budget includes 10 new positions and slightly more money for public safety.

McAllen’s property tax rate would remain unchanged at 47.6 cents per $100 of taxable assessed valuation. Without any property tax exemptions, the owner of a $100,000 home will pay the city $476.

The city, though, would collect nearly $1.5 million more in property taxes thanks to higher valuations and new construction, according to the draft budget. McAllen projects sales tax revenue — the city’s single-largest source of income — will remain flat.

It’s a tight budget for McAllen.

Police Chief Victor Rodriguez requested six new officers and three support personnel; the budget doesn’t include any. Fire Chief Rafael Balderas requested four new firefighters and a lieutenant; the budget includes two firefighters. And nonprofit organizations that requested funding from the city may receive significantly less than they expected.

Major reductions include:

  • Funding for the McAllen Boys and Girls Club would drop from $750,000 to $670,000.
  • Funding for the International Museum of Art and Science would drop from $735,000 to $700,000.
  • Funding for Amigos Del Valle would drop from about $88,000 to $66,000.

The City Commission will meet with the organizations Wednesday to discuss the budget requests and recommendations, which remain subject to change.

McAllen plans to adopt the new budget on Sept. 25. The new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

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