Watson hired as city manager; council passes tax increase

Douglas' new city manager Jerene Watson (center) chats with Alma Andrade and councilwoman Margaret Morales after Monday's special city council meeting at City Hall which also included the final passage of the proposed tax increase from 2.8 percent to 3.8 percent.

Jerene Watson had the “interim” tag removed from her title as city manager and was unanimously approved for the position by the Douglas City Council to be the city manager for the next year starting Monday, July 29.

The approval came at a special city council meeting held on Monday at City Hall.

At the same meeting, the council approved the third reading of the ordinance authorizing the increase of the sales/use tax from 2.8 percent to 3.8 percent commencing Sept. 1, 2019. Also included in that passage was the bed tax increase to 4 percent from 2 percent

Local residents Tanya and Jesus Duarte as well as former Mayor Dr. Mike Gomez asked the council to reconsider the tax increase during the call to the public.

The motion to approve the increase was made by councilman Mitch Lindemann and seconded by Jose Grijalva. Lindemann, Grijalva as well as Mayor Robert Uribe and council members Ray Shelton and Cesar Soto all voted to approve the increase while Margaret Morales and Donnie Huish voted against it.

It is anticipated the extra revenue will generate a little over $1.4 million extra in income which will be used for raises for city employees as well as some badly needed emergency equipment for the Douglas Fire and Police Departments.

Watson’s interim agreement with Douglas expired on July 28. With the new agreement, she will be paid an annual salary of $115,000 plus receive a housing and car allowance not to exceed $1,500 per month. The city will not pay any health insurance for her as she is already covered by her retirement health coverage. Benefits that will be paid however include short-term disability coverage, Workman’s Compensation and life insurance in the amount of one and a half times the annual base salary.

See next week’s Douglas Dispatch for more on what transpired at the meeting including comments from Watson.

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