Presidio City Council boosts retirement benefits, starts process of setting new utilities rates

PRESIDIO — At Monday’s city council meeting, council members voted to beef up retirement packages and also began the process of setting new utilities rates. The City of Presidio employer match — the amount of money that the city pays into an employee’s retirement fund — was increased from a 1:1 ratio to a 1:1.5, and the retirement age for city employees under the age of 60 was set to 20 to 25 years of service. 

The City of Presidio is a member of the Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS), which helps coordinate and manage employee benefits. There are currently seven individuals receiving payouts from the city — some who worked for the city directly, and others who are collecting on behalf of a spouse. 

Anthony Mills, director of city services for TMRS, gave a presentation on the city’s options and helped guide a conversation about next steps. He advised boosting the city’s match on the grounds that most folks who work for the city retire and stay in the city — in other words, cash spent by the city on retirees would likely stay in the local economy. “It’s an investment in not only today but tomorrow,” he said. 

Presidio’s benefit accumulation fund is “significantly overfunded,” according to Finance Specialist Malynda Richardson. Richardson explained that the overflow wasn’t necessarily positive news. “We do have a significant amount of turnover and people don’t always stay [with the city] long enough to collect,” she explained. 

Though Richardson cautioned that that balance would be depleted by an increased match, she also felt that it might be a way for Presidio to keep employees around longer and retain talent in the community. “How do we get young people in Presidio to stay here?” she asked the council. “Say you have someone coming in [to work for the city] in their 20s — this could really be an incentive for them to stay here.” 

Council members ultimately opted for an increase in payouts — John Razo, Steven Alvarez and Joe Andy Mendoza voted for the new plan, and Arian Velázquez-Ornelas voted against. The measure to amend the set retirement age for city employees under the age of 60 also passed. 

Council also began the long process of setting new rates for wastewater, water and sanitation utilities services. Much of the revision process this year will be just that — cleaning up unclear language in the individual ordinances. Connection rates for wastewater and new water meters would likely see the largest increase in fees, but council also discussed implementing payment plans and investigating other options for new homeowners. 

The new rates have not been officially decided, and the city is still in the drafting process. For Presidians who would like to offer input, there will be another reading of the proposed ordinances as well as a final public hearing before the new rates go on the books. The Presidio International will continue to cover the discussion.