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Previous Commission's Final Act: Raises for a Few

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Rio Arriba County Public Works Director Napoleon Garcia submitted a letter on his own behalf to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to express his interest in serving on the New Mexico State Game Commission. The Commission oversees the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and a budget of more than $35 million.

Rio Arriba County Public Works Administrator Napoleon Garcia received a $5,200 raise, effective Feb. 10.

His salary rose from $61,065 to $66,265.

The raise came only 17 days after County Manager Tomas Campos wrote in an email to a Rio Grande SUN reporter that questions about Garcia’s salary “had been answered.”

“If so then you have seen that he has not received an increase,” Campos wrote Jan. 24. “I believe this is your third time at this.”

Campos’ email came after a series of Inspection of Public Records Act requests sent to the County Clerk’s Office for information about Garcia’s salary.

The records requests were made in response to the Rio Arriba County Board of Commissioners unanimously passing a resolution Dec. 20, 2018 to change the personnel classification codes for 11 County positions.

Although there were 11 classification schedule changes in the resolution, the Commission only publicly discussed the ones regarding raises for employees in the County Assessor’s Office.

The passage of the resolution changed Garcia’s title from Public Works director to Public Works administrator.

The resolution was passed at the last meeting of former commissioners Barney Trujillo and Alex Naranjo.

Commissioner Danny Garcia, whose term ends in 2020, also voted in favor of the resolution. Danny Garcia is Napoleon Garcia’s uncle.

In the Jan. 24 email, Campos also wrote that the SUN reporter was “causing problems” for County employees by “telling them that (Napoleon Garcia) and other employees have received increases and asking them how they feel about this.”

“You need to know that there are no secrets in Rio Arriba and the things employees say you tell them are causing problems,” Campos wrote.

The raise

Despite Campos’ comments about having no secrets, Napoleon Garcia’s raise has not been discussed at a public meeting.

Instead, the details of his raise and how it is funded are in his personnel file.

Documents in his file show he was hired by the County in June 2013 and had a starting salary of $60,265.

The request for reclassification form, dated Feb. 14, in his file includes a signature line for approval meant to be signed by the County Finance Department director.

Instead of a signature, the phrase “as per upper management” is written in its place.

The form also includes a section to mark whether or not there is an available budget to perform the reclassification.

The boxes to answer yes or no are left blank.

Instead, written underneath the boxes in blue ink, is “transfer budget from manager to cover raise.”

Campos returned phone calls inquiring about the decision to give Napoleon Garcia the $5,200 raise by text message.

“You have all of Napo’s information,” he wrote. “You talk of changing my mind. You told (Human Resources Director Annabelle Almager) I lied. So where are you going with this.”

Campos did not answer follow up questions, sent through text message, which included why he decided to approve the raise 17 days after his comments in the Jan. 24 email, if any other directors or administrators received raises and if the Commission had to change Napoleon Garcia’s personnel classification in order to give him the raise.

Napoleon Garcia did not return phone calls by press time inquiring about his raise.

“As a commissioner, we look to our management and their recommendations and rely on them for the expertise in the personnel matters,” Commissioner James J. Martinez said Tuesday.

Both he and Commissioner Leo Jaramillo said they are working to include raises for all County employees in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget.

“I will be ensuring that employees who were given a raise before my proposed 3.5 percent raise do not get this increase,” Jaramillo said in a text message on Monday. “If it passes.”

Other raises

It remains unknown if all the other employees whose personnel classification was changed during the December 2018 meeting received raises.

A comparison of County salaries from the end of 2018 and May 2019 show that at least one person on the list did receive a salary increase.

Deputy Detention Center Administrator Jose Gallego’s salary rose from $48,825 to $54,025.

Although two Road Department supervisor positions were also included in the December 2018 resolution, the salaries for those employees remains the same, according to the May 2019 salary list.

It is unknown if the May 2019 salary list is accurate, as it still includes the salary for a former Rio Arriba Sheriff’s Office deputy who left the County in February to work for the Española Police Department.

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