Mission to raise wages for city employees

A workshop held last Friday morning involved the discussion of the 2018-2019 preliminary budget for the City of Mission, and it appears that the minimum wage for city employees may be raised by $1 – for certain employees of the city.

After deliberation by the city council, Mayor Armando O’caña and City Manager Martin Garza, Jr., it was decided that in order to remain competitive with other cities like Edinburg and Pharr, Mission would have to increase city employee wages to some capacity.

City of Mission logoThe financial department compared the city wages of laborers in Mission, Alamo, Edinburg, McAllen, Pharr, San Juan, South Padre Island and Weslaco, certain employees who make less than $15 per hour such as greenskeepers, pipelayers, park laborers and streets laborers stand to have their wages increased by $1.

“We’re moving our minimum wage from $8.50 to $9.50,” O’caña said. “We’re planning for future positions.”

The option the council and mayor agreed on should raise the wages of city employees who make less than $15 per hour by $1 or more depending on their position and what similar positions make in Pharr and Edinburg. Those who make more than $15 may see a raise comparable to other cities.

“We’re going to save in training our people,” O’caña said. “We’re having to train people every four weeks, and they’ve been moving to McAllen and Edinburg, and now we’re going to keep them.”

The preliminary budget was on the agenda for this week’s city council meeting, where it was presented to the public.

The minimum wage has not been raised for city employees in Mission since 2008.

This was not the first time the minimum wage and budget for the city was discussed. At a workshop held July 10, mayor and council discussed the initial budget proposal and O’caña’s original recommendations for city raises.

In O’caña’s first plan, he laid out a four-year initiative which would “upgrade” the minimum wage for those making less than $15 per hour by $1.50 per year for three years, and in the fourth raise it by $2.00. For employees making more than $15 per hour, the city would have added $0.10 per hour the first year, $0.20 in the second and third years, and no raise in the fourth year.

O’caña made raising the minimum wage of city employees to $15 one of his campaign promises during the recent mayoral election, and the first plan reflected that, however, it was not fiscally sound. Mayor Pro-Tem Norie Gonzalez Garza and council member Ruben Plata were wary of the proposal, as it would have cut the unrestricted fund balance from $6,380,532 in 2018 to $3,119,559 in 2019, leaving the budget “unbalanced.”

The council did agree, however, that a raise for city employees was deserved and warranted.

After further deliberation and work from the city’s financial department, the new raise of $1 for certain employees, and more for others so they would be more inclined to stay working in Mission as opposed to other Rio Grande Valley cities, was decided on.

“At the end of my four years as the mayor, I want to be able to say that the minimum wage went up from $8.50 to $15,” O’caña said. “I might have not done it in the first 100 days, but that’s okay. Mission has to strive forward first.”

O’caña said it was a “great start” for Mission, and that he was elected to serve all her citizens, even the ones who did not vote for him.

“We have to take care of 88,000 [people],” O’caña said. “And the City of Mission comes first.”

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