Socorro Clerk, police chief re-appointed by council

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Every two years, after a municipal election, the new Socorro city council has an opportunity to appoint a new city clerk and police chief. This year, because the four incumbent councilors who were up for re-election ran unopposed, the new city council is the same as the old city council.

The members still had an opportunity to appoint a new clerk and chief of police at the March 19 meeting, but chose not to.

The councilors voted unanimously to retain Pat Salome as Socorro city clerk, at an annual salary of $118,056. Salome also receives an allowance for using a personally owned vehicle on city business, of $3,000 per year. Salome has a bachelor’s degrees in economics and accounting, a master’s in public utility regulation from New Mexico State University and 24 years on the job.

The city council approved a 20 percent raise for Salome on June 29, 2011, bringing him to his present salary level.

Police Chief George Van Winkle was also retained, at an annual salary of $58,812. Van Winkle receives his annual salary, plus a personally owned vehicle allowance of $4,200 per year. The chief receives a gas allowance, also.

Van Winkle received a 5 percent merit raise last year, approved by the council on Jan. 18, 2011, to bring him to his current level.

As it does at the start of every calendar year and after every municipal election, the council also passed an open meetings resolution, spelling out how it will abide by the Open Meetings Act.

Not everything remains the same, however, Some changes were made in the city’s organizational chart, taking into consideration that some of the top administrators are getting close to thinking about retiring.

The biggest change is that Finance Director Mable Gonzales’ position has been reclassified as city treasurer. Gonzales will retain her current duties as finance director, but also will take on additional responsibilities.

Gonzales received a 10 percent raise, approved by the council last Jan. 18, 2011, for taking on extra duties. As finance director, Gonzales was paid $64,812 per year; as treasurer she will be making $71,755.

The news is not all good for Gonzales. As finance director, she was a protected employee, but as treasurer, she serves at the whim of the city council.

Salome said the salaries reflect the years of experience and the continuity that comes with having grown in the job as the city itself has grown.

Another organizational change promotes Payroll Clerk Stephanie Saavedra to Deputy Municipal Clerk/Payroll Clerk. In addition to her present duties, Saavedra will now take on more of the responsibilities of holding municipal elections, handling tort claims and responding to public information requests, among other things.

 


-- Email the author at sbarteau@dchieftain.com.