Two high-profile exits at the Agua Special Utility District helped contribute to providing their 70 full time employees with a $500 one-time supplemental pay last week.
At their Dec. 11 meeting, the Agua SUD directors unanimously approved the Christmas bonus where their full time employees would receive $500 and their one part-time employee would receive $250.
“This is something we always look at the end of the year and talking to our finance department to go over our budget to see if there’s anything available,” Saenz said at the meeting. “We looked to see if we saved money and there were some open salaries that weren’t fulfilled. So there was a budget available for this pay for our employees. They deserve it.”
The open salaries Saenz was referring to were the unfulfilled positions in the utility district, Saenz explained. When Agua approved their $30.6 million budget last December, they budgeted to pay for 77 full time employees.
However, the district was able to afford an increase in the Christmas bonuses since the district had 70 full time employees by the end of the year, Saenz said.
As previously reported last October and November, former Billing Manager Rodolfo “Rudy” Flores III and Finance Director Dagoberto Soto Jr. resigned from the district to work for the cities of Palmview and Edinburg, respectively.
Other vacancies in the district include two meter reader positions, though Saenz said he doubted the positions would need to be filled due to the district replacing their current water meters with smart meters that can track water usage more accurately, Saenz said.
With those vacancies, the district was able to afford the increase in the supplemental pay, Saenz said. He added that the pay marked the end of a very busy year for the utility district.
“2018 was a transitional year for us with me coming on board as general manager and all these changes in the board and with employees,” Saenz said after the meeting. “But we’ve had a successful year, we really weren’t affected by these exits and we kept trudging on.”
At that same meeting, the utility district’s financial department was recognized for the third year in a row by the Government Finance Officers Association with a certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting for Agua SUD’s comprehensive annual finance report for the 2017 fiscal year.
Saenz praised the finance department, and Soto Jr. for his efforts in getting the budget off the ground before his resignation. He noted that so far the district has used up 80 percent of the $30.6 million 2018 budget.
“We should recognize him, he’s gone off to a bigger responsibility representing the city of Edinburg and wish him well,” Saenz said of Soto Jr. “He laid down the foundation for what we’re doing.”