Donna taps former school super as assistant city manager

He also serves as bridge director

The Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge director began taking on additional duties last week as assistant city manager.

The Donna City Council named bridge Director Jesus “Rene” Reyna as assistant city manager during a special meeting held Thursday evening. Reyna said his pay for serving dual roles as assistant city manager and bridge director had not been finalized as of Monday.

“I think he’s a smart individual, and I think he’s proven to us that he has the knowledge that it takes,” Councilman Oscar Gonzales said of Reyna, who the city hired as bridge director in June 2018.

Donna City Manager Carlos Yerena hired Reyna, one of two applicants, for the bridge director position in charge of overseeing bridge employees and growing bridge traffic to increase city revenue.

Prior to applying for the bridge director position, Reyna headed Donna Independent School District as superintendent until 2016, when the school board accepted his resignation. The school board agreed to pay Reyna the remainder of his employment contract that year, following  his arrest by Donna ISD police on obstruction and bribery charges. A Hidalgo County grand jury declined to indict Reyna due to lack of evidence to support the allegations of criminal wrongdoing.

Reyna’s superintendent contract included a $195,000 annual salary, according to his job application obtained from the city of Donna through the Texas Public Information Act.

The city, however, pays him at least $93,000 a year as bridge director, according to a city of Donna compensation plan dated February 2018.

Reyna could receive a pay increase for taking on the assistant city management role, but said he would not accept a salary combining the pay for both positions.

“I’m sure it will be fair,” he said, noting the city manager ultimately decides pay.

In 2017, the then Donna City Council approved a budget that included allocating monies to pay an assistant city manager.

The city did not hire one until last week, even though this fiscal year’s budget did not include an assistant city manager position. The city’s compensation plan, stipulating the base pay of all city employees, did not list the assistant city manager position as of August 2018.

The Donna City Council meeting agenda on Thursday included an item to amend the compensation plan. The city, as of January 2018, no longer discloses its city council minutes on its website, making actions taken by elected officials unclear. It also does not publish agenda packets, which provide detailed information about each individual item on the agenda, such as the compensation plan.

Yerena, the city manager, could not immediately be reached for comment about the new position.

Reyna, the bridge director and assistant city manager, said his background in finance and experience with committees and architects assisted his transition into the roles.

“The mayor has been very supportive, (with) the commissioners and the city manager all working together as a team for the betterment of the citizens in Donna and the region,” he said.