LA JOYA — As conditions for his serving as the new executive director for the La Joya Housing Authority, Ruben O. Villarreal was granted a three-year contract by the board of commissioners Wednesday evening.
The contract, which is pending approval by the housing authority’s legal counsel, comes with an $84,000 annual salary and a 5% increase in salary after the first year.
The contract states Villarreal may be removed for illegal activity and does not include severance, though Villarreal clarified that if the board wished to terminate his employment, they could buy out the remainder of his contract.
A previous draft of the contract included a $500 car allowance but was eliminated following discussions with between Villarreal and board Chairman John Peña.
Villarreal said during the board meeting that he had offered to work part-time, coming to the office three times a week, at a reduced salary but instead settled on the $84,000.
“We have a lot of tenants that come at odd hours and being able to address them is really important,” he said. “They enjoy that they can talk to somebody on the spot.”
The housing authority’s previous permanent executive director, Cristi LaJeunesse, received $4,000 per month. However, she worked remotely attending to the other housing authorities that she ran the majority of the time and was only in La Joya about four times a month.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the board also approved a budget amendment to accommodate Villarreal’s salary.
Villarreal explained that while there were large “lofts” of funding in their budget for the 2019 fiscal year — which ends on Dec. 31 — but asked the board make the amendment as a precautionary measure, allowing him to adjust numbers if needed.
The former mayor of Rio Grande City, Villarreal was appointed to lead the housing authority on Sept. 4 but his contract was only just approved Wednesday after a board meeting scheduled last week was canceled due to lack of quorum.
The legal counsel which will be reviewing his contract will be the Law Office of Javier Villalobos who was hired by the board that night as well. The board agreed to contract their services for $150 per hour.
The board also agreed to look into hiring a certified public accountant with housing experience.
“This gives us financial guidance, the type of financial guidance that we desperately need,” Villarreal told the board.
New additions to the housing authority extended to the board itself.
Two new board members were sworn in by La Joya Mayor Jose “Fito” Salinas earlier that day — Bertha T. Mireles and Rosa Yvette Flores who are both employees of the La Joya school district.
They replaced German Reyna and Sylvia Garces-Valdez whose terms expired.
Board member Jose Armando Salinas did not attend Wednesday’s meeting.