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Randy Perez renounces candidacy for Mission TIRZ job

City approved over $200,000 severance with former city manager

Former Mission City Manager Randy Perez withdrew his candidacy for a leadership position with the Mission Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Wednesday in response to criticism over his fitness to serve in that role.

Randy Perez; photo courtesy of the city of Mission.

Mission agreed to pay Perez — a 22-year veteran city employee who’s served as city manager since 2019 — more than $200,000 to retire earlier this month.

Perez left his position as the city’s chief executive after intense public scrutiny over the city’s fiscal situation, a situation current leadership says is far from optimal and will take significant corrective action to fix.

Reports of Perez’s retirement from public service to the city of Mission at first seemed somewhat overexaggerated early this week.

On Tuesday the Mission TIRZ board voted to authorize its representatives to negotiate a temporary contract with Perez under which he would have served as executive director for a salary of no more than $4,000 a month.

Though led by its own board, the TIRZ is an appendage of Mission government aimed at stimulating economic growth in town.

TIRZ Chair Martin Garza described the organization’s effort to hire Perez as motivated by his experience with city affairs.

“We felt that both the city and the TIRZ have a lot of work and projects going on at this time,” Garza, himself a former Mission city manager, said. “With the city just also hiring a new city manager who is just stepping in and trying to catch up and trying to catch up on all the daily operations…We just felt that we needed to bring someone on board that could bring some continuity and bring in a smooth transition to all the infrastructure projects and work that we’re doing.”

Perez has experience leading TIRZ. He says he’s served as its interim executive director for the past year.

At one point he received assignment pay for his TIRZ work at a rate of $24,000 annually, documents obtained through an open records request show.

Perez won’t wind up continuing his work at the TIRZ.

On Wednesday the Progress Times called Perez about financial transparency concerns voiced by Councilman Ruben Plata related to Perez’s tenure as city manager and his fitness to continue working for the city in a different capacity.

Perez didn’t answer so the Progress Times left him a voicemail.

Three and a half hours later, Perez called the Progress Times back to say he’d formally withdrawn his candidacy based on that voicemail.

“You know, I just want to continue my good relationship with the city. And if it’s something that’s not being looked at as something positive, well then, I definitely want to continue helping with any aspect that I can. And so I’d just prefer to not move forward regarding that,” he said.

Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza told the Progress Times she did not have concerns about Perez working for the TIRZ. The rest of council didn’t comment.

Perez said he couldn’t comment on concerns over finances and transparency because he hasn’t been privy to recent discussions on them.

Earlier this month city council replaced Randy Perez with Mike Perez, a well-known municipal leader with a reputation for solving difficult problems.

Mike Perez, who is not related to his predecessor, didn’t comment Tuesday on Randy Perez’s job prospects with the TIRZ.

He did comment frankly on the state of things at city hall. Mike Perez said the city’s administration has had a hard time being truthful and forthright about finance issues, and that communication lapses are part of the reason the city has a new city manager.

“That’s the way it is,” he said. “Council expects us to be frank and transparent, and when they come to policies and budgets and anything that they take action on, we have to tell them. I mean, they come to the meetings twice a month and they depend on staff to tell them what’s going on and they make decisions based on what they’re being told.”

It wasn’t always clear in recent months whether council was being told what was going on.

Late last year, Mayor Garza publicly denied allegations that the city had liquidity issues.

Norie Garza picked up her phone to respond to those allegations. Randy Perez did not.

It turned out the city had significant liquidity issues.

After those issues became public in December, Randy Perez announced his retirement before rescinding that decision less than a week later, a reversal he says he made at the behest of council.

Randy Perez’s retirement letter from December and his retirement letter from March are almost identical and only superficially different. Neither reference finances.

His retirement does have fiscal implications.

The city agreed to a settlement agreement with Randy Perez that includes a severance package consisting of six months of salary, equating to $125,000.

It also includes the remainder of his accrued vacation and sick leave, totaling $86,687.04.

Under the settlement, Randy Perez and his family will remain on the city’s health insurance plan through the end of August, and he’ll be eligible for retirement benefits.

The city of Mission has paid out severance packages for top-level personnel before, though it didn’t do it for its last high-profile resignation.

City Attorney Victor Flores resigned in February. The city didn’t pay him a penny in severance.

So what’s next for Randy Perez? Despite the TIRZ job being off the table, he says he’s not concerned.

“Well, you’ll find out later on,” Randy Perez said. “I am looking at several options, so I’m sure you’ll hear about it later on in the future. But for now, taking some time off and enjoying with the family.”

The city agreed to keep Randy Perez on for a leadership transition period through the end of the month and he says he’s always open to helping the city after that date. He says his last official day working for the city, Easter Sunday, has spiritual significance.

“You know, one of the things that I find very fitting that — you know, I’m a man of God — and retiring on Easter Sunday this year, where March 31st falls Easter Sunday, the resurrection of the Jesus Christ. To me it’s very fitting to retire on Easter Sunday, and so I’m very excited to do that,” he said. “Look forward, wish the city everything but the best. And again, I’m a phone call away.”

 

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