Local NewsTaxes & SpendingFormer Laredo City Manager Received $880,000 Taxpayer-Funded Severance, Benefits Last Year

The severance package was promised to De Leon when he was hired. He became eligible for payouts after abruptly leaving last year.
August 14, 2020
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A city manager in Laredo received $880,486 in taxpayer-funded severance and benefits payments last year after leaving his post only 20 months into his tenure.

Horacio De Leon Jr. received a smorgasbord of benefits and cash on his way out the door, such as health insurance until the day he dies. De Leon characterized his departure as for his retirement.

The pretty penny was part of the “retention incentive package” promised to De Leon when he was hired by the city council in 2017.

Open the Books, a nonprofit organization that spotlights government spending, made an open records request to the City of Laredo seeking more details.

A Laredo official told Open the Books that the package included $569,082 in severance pay, $106,334 in vacation pay, $86,456 in sick leave pay, $76,320 for “regular hours,” and other payments including $4,985 for a car.

The Texan Mug

The so-called severance package was called a “retention incentive,” but when the city of Laredo hired him, the terms of his employment included a clause that allowed him to cash in on the six-figure haul even if he resigned.

The Laredo Morning Times reported that De Leon announced his immediate departure at the end of a city council meeting in January 2019 that had entered an executive session. He reportedly said that his views and the council’s no longer aligned.

While it’s unclear whether De Leon was dismissed or chose to leave, it’s difficult to ignore the fact that such a costly going away gift was available to De Leon, especially given the brevity of his tenure with the city.

The jaw-dropping bill for De Leon’s retirement falls on Laredo taxpayers, whose current property tax rate is $0.64 for every $100 in assessed value.

The U.S. Census Bureau says that Laredo, a city with an estimated population of 262,491, has a median household income of $43,351 and a poverty rate of 29 percent.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan in Dallas. During the academic year, he coaches high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.

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