The council had continued the item from their last meeting in May, when they asked that it be brought back for consideration after a special budget meeting.
City Councilman Dave Womble asked Fitch whether – in light of the anticipated $434,000 budget shortfall discussed at the budget meeting earlier in the afternoon – he still wanted to move forward with his request that the council unfreeze the position.
Fitch said that he did.
“I’ve got to balance fiscal responsibility to my responsibility to my guys that have been there a long time… and to reward them for their loyalty and hard work,” Fitch explained. “I think the fact we’re able to do that at this point with an actual cost savings, at least for the next couple years, I still feel comfortable with that decision.”
At the prior council meeting, Fitch indicated that there would be some cost savings in the short-term, as the lieutenant position is exempt from overtime pay. By promoting Tamez to lieutenant, the city will actually save money in the first year, break about even in the second year, and would realize an small increase in expenses by the third year, he said.
Councilmen Dave Markss and Greg Ponciano said that they were hesitant to move forward with unfreezing the position strictly from a financial standpoint, given the outlook for the city’s budget in Fiscal Year 2018-19. Both had previously expressed concerns over increased retirement and post-employment benefit costs associated with unfreezing the position.
Despite the concerns from Markss and Ponciano, Tom Reische made the motion to reinstate the lieutenant position, saying that both Fitch and Tamez deserved it. The motion carried 4-1, with Markss voting “no.”