Fired city man­ager OKs severance terms

Records show that he got av­er­age eval­u­a­tion last year

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO&STATE - By Pa­trick Ge­orge

SAN MAR­COS — For­mer San Mar­cos City Man­ager Rick Men­chaca, fired from his post about three weeks ago, has signed a waiver ac­cept­ing his ter­mi­na­tion and agreed not to sue the city.

Al­though coun­cil mem­bers never ex­plic­itly stated why Men­chaca was fired, his most re­cent an­nual per­for­mance eval­u­a­tion re­vealed some crit­i­cism of his man­age­ment style and said that morale among city work­ers was low.

Shortly af­ter his ter­mi­na­tion, Men­chaca said he had de­clined a severance of­fer from the city and would look for an at­tor­ney. But at Tues­day night’s reg­u­lar meet­ing of the San Mar­cos City Coun­cil, Mayor Su­san Nar­vaiz said Men­chaca had in­formed the city that he ac­cepted his $85,000 severance pack­age and would not file a law­suit.

Men­chaca did not re­turn calls for com­ment Wed­nes­day. Men­chaca’s con­tract in­cluded a clause that al­lowed him to be ter­mi­nated with­out cause at a pub­lic meet­ing. The con­tract pro­vides for a severance agree­ment that in­cludes six months of pay in cash, plus his un­used vacation and sick time. The pack­age is con­tin­gent upon him waiv­ing his right to sue the city.

Men­chaca be­came city man­ager in late April 2008 with an an­nual salary of $170,000, ac­cord­ing to his con­tract. He re­signed as Mid­land’s city man­ager in 2007 amid a pub­lic and con­tentious squab­ble with the City Coun­cil and the Mid­land Po­lice Depart­ment.

Men­chaca was fired by the San Mar­cos coun­cil in a 4-3 de­ci­sion at a spe­cial meet­ing June 25. Nar­vaiz said Tues­day that the mat­ter was dis­cussed in ex­ec­u­tive ses­sion rather than in pub­lic be­cause it was a per­son­nel is­sue.

It was a de­ci­sion the coun­cil care­fully con­sid­ered, she said.

“This was not an overnight de­ci­sion,” Nar­vaiz said. “This was not an easy de­ci­sion for any­one.”

Ac­cord­ing to his most re­cent an­nual em­ployee eval­u­a­tion, dated June 1, coun­cil mem­bers, city staff and ex­ter­nal eval­u­a­tors gave Men­chaca a rat­ing of 5.84 out of a pos­si­ble 10. This was con­sid­ered an “av­er­age” rat­ing, ac­cord­ing to the eval­u­a­tion.

Eval­u­a­tors ranked Men­chaca pos­i­tively for im­prov­ing upon his fol­low-ups to ques­tions from the coun­cil. They said he dis­played cre­ativ­ity and high en­ergy, was skilled at long-range plan­ning and had im­proved his skills in deal­ing with cit­i­zens.

“Over the past year, his ef­forts have re­sulted in the or­ga­ni­za­tion ex­hibit­ing a more pro­fes­sional de­meanor,” the evalu- ation said.

But it also had some neg­a­tive com­ments about his per­for­mance. The eval­u­a­tion said he did not sup­port city staff mem­bers enough, and be­cause of this, “em­ployee morale seems to be low.”

Some eval­u­a­tors noted a gen­eral lack of trust be­tween staff mem­bers as well, and the eval­u­a­tion seems to sup­port Men­chaca’s rep­u­ta­tion for lack­ing “peo­ple skills”— some­thing he was crit­i­cized for in Mid­land.

“Al­though the city man­ager has gen­er­ally im­proved his re­la­tion­ships with cit­i­zens, there con­tin­ues to be a feel­ing of un­easi­ness with him and his com­mu­ni­ca­tion style,” the eval­u­a­tion said.

The coun­cil has not for­mally an­nounced a timetable for find­ing a re­place­ment city man­ager. In­terim City Man­ager Lau­rie Moyer has in­di­cated she will not ap­ply for the per­ma­nent po­si­tion.

Rick Men­chaca

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