Commissioners split on hiring county manager, motion fails

Commissioners split on hiring county manager, motion fails

POSTED: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 12:24pm

UPDATED: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 6:21pm

UPDATE 6:21 PM: The proposal to hire a county administrator failed today in commissioners court, as we reported county Judge Veronica Escobar had asked to regrade the current chief of staff position to county administrator.

The new position would have been assisting the court in administrative procedures and responsibilities, according to Escobar the position and department already exists and exclusively serves the judge, she said her purpose was to make service available for full court staff.

Commissioners Sergio Lewis and Carlos Leon voted against the change saying the new position would create more bureaucracy.

"what I wanted to do was take an existing position a position that is funded and filled and turn it over to the court so that we can begin better planning for the future, we're not doing any planning for facilities, for fleet there are so many things that happen in this organization on a day to day basis that the court doesn't know about” County Judge Veronica Escobar said.

El Paso is the only major county in Texas without a county administrative position.

UPDATE: 2:05 p.m. The motion to approve the hiring of a county manager/administrator failed after a vote in Monday's Commissioner Court meeting. County Judge Veronica Escobar and County Comm. Vince Perez voted to approve the position, while Commissioners Sergio Lewis and Carlos Leon voted against.

ORIGINAL STORY - The El Paso County Commissioners court will review the possibility of hiring a county manager during Monday's meeting, the idea created diverse opinions among some El Paso residents.

"If we get a manager like that in the county they're going to take over and pretty much do whatever they feel like without the voters consent" West El Paso resident Gabriel Mena said.

"It's better to have both managers in the city and county it makes a bigger team and a better opportunity for a better county and city functioning" East El Paso resident Mario Hernandez said.

This proposal would allow the county to delegate some of the administrative procedures to the manager; County Commissioner Sergio Lewis says he disagrees with the idea.

"My biggest concern is also the potential of the additional layer of bureaucracy in the future, currently there just saying is just a shift but we have an administrative chief that works for the judge, my concern is in the future with a real organization plan to the manning table what is that going to bring, an additional position in the future?" Lewis said.

However there is a big difference between the authoritiy the county manager would handle in comparison of El Paso's city manager...since more than 80 percent of the county is administered by elected officials and 16 percent by non-elected officials.

"if you have 80 percent of elected officials and by statue they have their own authority by the state of Texas are we hiring a county manager for 16 percent of the workforce of non-elected officials?" Lewis added.

One young El Paso resident says the position would only create unnecessary spending and disorganization.

"I believe it's an unnecessary spending we complain about how our budget is really tight and stuff like that; our city manager gets paid a lot" Mena said

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I can see why Lewis voted against the motion but for Leon to say no is a big surprise. What is up with that? Lewis seems to want to become what Representative Robinson is at City Council = Mr. No to everything. Lewis has not gotten that bad but if he is not careful he might be getting there & we will pay the price for slow or no progress. I hope whoever Judge Escobar names to replace Dan's seat is wiser than Lewis and Leon. Que Pues Leon, see the big picture. Be smart man.

It is just crazy that in this day and age the county does not have a manager/administrator to oversee the daily operations and functions of county departments. Those individuals that want city and county governmwnts to run otherwise wre just plain and simply living in the dark ages and are refusing to accept that times have drastically changed. Please grow up and get on board with life as it is today.

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