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City enters contract negotiations for lone city manager finalist

By: Bill Melugin
EL PASO, Texas City officials announced they would begin negotiating a contract with former Irving City Manager Tommy Gonzalez to be the El Paso city manager.

City leaders still need to approve the decision, but Mayor Oscar Leeser and the city authorized their private search firm to enter into contract negotiations with Gonzalez.

In a phone call Gonzalez told KFOX14 he has only been contacted by Affion, El Pasos private search firm, and not by anyone from the City Council yet.

"I'm very humbled that council would have that type of confidence in me to be the next city manager and I'm very happy about it, Gonzalez said.

That doesnt mean everything is set and done just yet.

The City Council still needs to approve Gonzalez as their selection with an official vote.

If the council votes against him, negotiations would stop and the remaining three candidates would be considered.

Leeser didnt say whether or not the decision to select Gonzalez was unanimous, but he said Gonzalez was chosen after deliberations that took place behind closed doors.

If the decision becomes official, the city would want Gonzalez to start in the next month or two, well before the contract expires for the current city manager, Joyce Wilson.

Leeser said one of the terms the new city manager would be offered is a salary that would not exceed Wilsons -- which is just under $240,000.

As the city manager in Irving, Gonzalez made more than $400,000 because of incentives in his contract.

Gonzalez told KFOX14 he was humbled to be selected and the salary would not stop him from coming to El Paso.

"I think a lot of people have kind of misunderstood the pay in Irving; I was paid a base salary, and then I was paid incentives and that was based off performance, Gonzalez said. In this particular occasion in El Paso, I think the salary is a very good starting amount -- very good salary and that's not going to be an issue for me.

Gonzalez told KFOX14 he will not ask for incentives in his contract.

"What I have always done in working with various councils in three different cities is always approach them with whatever they're comfortable with is what Ill do, Gonzalez said. This is a public service, so whatever the council is comfortable with and the community is comfortable with, I'm fine with that.

Gonzalez said if El Paso makes him an official offer, he would accept the job.

Leeser and the City Council will need to make an official vote, and if contract negotiations go well they could officially hire Gonzalez at a meeting next Tuesday.