Fired city manager OKs severance terms
Records show that he got average evaluation last year
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.