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City council discusses mid-year budget review

When it comes to revenue, last year the city lost over $32 million... this year they project that they will lose $26 million.
Published: Apr. 27, 2021 at 11:43 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - The city’s mid-year budget workshop led to a conversation about city employee pay.

Aside from a raise, the city council agrees to several measures to keep and grow the number of city staff.

Monday night, city council, management and staff reviewed their budget numbers and what they will be using incoming federal dollars from the 2021 rescue plan for.

When it comes to revenue, last year the city lost over $32 million... this year they project that they will lose $26 million.

Budget director Gilberto Sanchez presented a plan for how they will use the $96 million of stimulus money.

“We have to cover our losses from 2020. We have to cover our losses for 2021. Which will amount to $58 million altogether.”

The remaining $38 million will go towards other things that management felt was needed, like: street improvements, information, science, and technology, the future homeless shelter, and a two percent cost of living increase for the remainder of this year and next year.

This is something that didn’t sit right with district two councilman Vidal Rodriguez.

“I will make a motion that we go with staff recommendation on the allocation of the COVID funds with the exception of the cost of living that we do a three percent of the fiscal year 2021 and we withdraw from fiscal year 2022 until the next budget,” said Rodriguez.

The motion sparked a conversation about the importance of investing in their employees and ways to improve on that.

Human resources director Melina Bermudez says they are losing people left and right.

“They might start here, work a day and then leave because said private employer is able to provide them more,” said Bermudez. “I need to make this statement, and the directors can attest to this, it’s not just your licensed or your technical workers, at this point, we’re having a very significant hard time getting clerks, admin. Assistance, anybody and everybody.”

The final motions that passed include the three percent increase as well as a directive for staff to look into a plan to fix wages across the city, and to bring back an ordinance about minimum pay.

All of these decisions depend on the 96 million in federal dollars coming into the city in a few months.

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