CITY: Vasquez made misstatements, Chief cites City manager as source

According to a statement given by the City of San Angelo’s Public Information Officer, Anthony Wilson, there were misstatements made during Friday morning’s press conference given by San Angelo Police Chief Tim Vasquez. 

During the conference that was called by Vasquez regarding the July 2 runoff election, Vasquez said there is a hiring freeze in effect for the City; Wilson said this is not accurate. Wilson said the City continues to actively recruit applicants to fill all job vacancies. Although a hiring freeze could happen in light of decreased sales tax collections, a freeze has not occurred and is not imminent, he said.

Additionally, Vasquez said in the upcoming fiscal year, police officers are due to receive a healthy raise but there will be no raises for civilian employees.

Wilson said those are discussions that have not yet happened; the City Council will begin discussing and deliberating the budget including pay raises later this summer.

“So that sort of declaration is very premature,” Wilson said.

Pay raises for City employees will not be determined until this summer, Wilson said, when the City Council will discuss and approve a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. The discussion will include funding the salary increases for police officers negotiated through the Meet and Confer Agreement.

San Angelo NOW contacted Vasquez for further clarification.

Regarding his statement about the hiring freeze, Vasquez said he spoke with City Manager Daniel Valenzuela last week.

“I believe he gave me every indication that that was imminent, except in public safety,” Vasquez said.

Valenzuela said Vasquez and he have weekly Friday meetings to talk about City and police matters, and these issues did come up in their last discussion. Valenzuela said, however, that he never said that such a freeze was imminent.

“I think a lot of that is premature,” Valenzuela said. “If our sales tax revenue continues to decrease, then of course we will have to make adjustments.”

Vasquez said his statements about officers having a set raise and other City employees not being eligible was gathered from that conversation with Valenzuela.

“That is what I gathered, because of the reduction of sales tax revenue and hiring freeze that raises would potentially only go to just those that they are contractually bound to give through Meet and Confer,” Vasquez said.

According to Valenzuela, he doesn’t necessarily disagree with Vasquez’ assessment of a possible worst-case scenario for non public safety employees, but should sales tax revenue recover in the short-term, then it’s possible that a hiring and wage freeze wouldn’t be needed.

Valenzuela said those decisions will be made by City Council, with his input, in the near future.