City of Laredo

Civil Service Workshop


City Council Chambers

1110 Houston Street

Laredo, Texas  78040

April 11, 2005


I.          Call to Order


            With a quorum present, Mayor Elizabeth G.  Flores called the meeting to order.


II.        Roll Call


            In attendance:


            Alfredo Agredano,                                                                    Council Member, District I

            Hector Garcia,                                                                          Council Member, District II

            John C.  Galo,                                                                          Council Member, District III

            Johnny Amaya,                                                                         Mayor Pro Tem, District IV

            Johnny Rendon                                                                         Council Member, District V

            Gene Belmares,                                                                        Council Member, District VI

            Jose A.  Valdez, Jr.,                                                                 Council Member, District VII

            Juan Ramirez,                                                                           Council Member, District VIII

            Donna Magnon,                                                                        Deputy Secretary IV

            Cynthia Collazo,                                                                       Deputy City Manager

            Jaime Flores,                                                                            City Attorney


            Motion to excuse Mayor Elizabeth  Flores. 


            Moved:  Cm.  Agredano

            Second:  Cm.  Galo

            For:     6                                               Against:  0                                            Abstain:  0


            Cm.  Garcia arrived at 5:42 p.m.


III.       Presentation by Dan Migura, Administrative Services Director to update City Council

            on the findings of the recent staff study on non-uniformed Civil Service Systems. 


            Dan Migura gave the following presentation:


Non-uniformed Civil Service System




·        September 7, 2004 – Laredo City Council received information and requests from interested groups to create a civil service system.

·        January 6, 2005 – A summary and information report was given to City Council.

·        February 22, 2005 – At a City Council meeting, during the communication segment, a presentation was made regarding Civil Service.

·        March 7, 2005 – during a regular City Council meeting, after City Council discussed civil service, staff advised City Council that a Civil Service Workshop would be planned.

·        April 7, 2005 – The agenda item to discuss creating a new Appeals and Grievance Committee was postponed for discussion at the upcoming Civil Service Workshop.  The Workshop was scheduled for April 11, 2005.




·        How is a Civil Service System incorporated in a municipality?

·        What is a Civil Service system?

·        How does a Civil Service system compare to the City’s current personnel system?

o       Explanation of City’s current personnel system

o       Study of other cities with civil service systems

o       Feasibility of a civil service system for City of Laredo employees

·        What are the advantages and disadvantages of Civil Service System?

·        How does our current Appeals and Grievance Committee operate and how effective has it been for employees?




·        Clarify Civil Service Systems

·        Understand City’s current personnel system

·        Compare other cities

·        Determine feasibility of a Civil Service System for City of Laredo employees


How is a civil service system incorporated in a municipality?


Adoption of a Civil Service System by the City of Laredo.


·        Step 1.  Charter Amendment – Amend the City Charter by adopting a civil service system and creating a civil service commission and modifying or deleting those charter provisions that could potentially conflict with a civil service system.

o       Process to amend the City Charter – Any proposed charter amendment must be submitted to the municipality’s qualified voters for their approval at an election.  (See City Charter, Section 12.05, which adopts Section 9.004 of the Texas Government Code).  The election could be governed by the Texas Election Code.

·        Step 2.  Passage of an Ordinance.  After approved by a majority of the electorate, the city must pass an ordinance which will contain all related civil service regulations. 


What is a Civil Service system?




·        The civil service system relegates the HR function to a board or commission with comprehensive, policy-making, administrative, and appellate powers.  The commission members are appointed or elected independently of the chief executive of the jurisdiction.  The authority for local civil service systems may be contained in the state constitution or enacted as a state law.  In states where cities and counties have “home rule,  the authority may be a local charter adopted by popular vote, a resolution by the governing body, or local ordinance.  In this type of system the commission typically has authority over a majority of employees, the HR director, and department directors.


Buford, Jr., J. A. & Lindner, J. R. (Eds.) (2002).  Human Resource Management in Local Government.  Cincinnati, Ohio: South-western.




·        Counties in State of Texas – Local Government Code (Chapter 158)

o       200,000 or greater population

o       Voter Approval

·        Home Rule Cities

o       Charter

o       6 Cities:  Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Corpus Christi, and Amarillo




·        Civil Service Commission

o       3 – 9 Members (citizens)

o       Appointed by City Council, City Commission, or Mayor

o       2 – 3 year terms

o       Paid/unpaid

o       Subpoena

o       Trial Boards

o       HR Director and Department Director oversight


Final Authority


·        City Manager

·        Civil Service Commission

·        Administrative Judge




·        Employment and Recruitment

o       Exams (Oral, Written, Physical tests, demonstrations of skills, evaluation of training and experience as recorded in their applications or any combination);

o       Eligibility/Promotional Lists (12 – 18 months)

o       Certification of top three applicants/employees

·        Appeals and Grievances

o       Commission hears appeals and grievances of applicants/employees

o       Commission has final authority to uphold, modify, or reject action of HR Director, Department Director, and/or City Manager

o       Commission can subpoena individuals or information

o       Commission can meet as needed or at recurring scheduled meeting times

o       Commission can meet in pen or closed session

·        Disciplinary Action

o       Directors are required to submit written justification to commission for all adverse action taken

o       Employees may appeal or commission may hold a review hearing on adverse action

o       Commission has final authority

·        Policies and Procedures

o       Are created and implemented by commission subject to Council approval\

o       HR Director is required to submit policy and procedure action to Commission for review and approval


How does a Civil Service system compare to the City’s current personnel system?


Texas Cities                                                   Civil Service


1.         El Paso                                     Yes

2.         San Antonio                                         Yes

3.         Corpus Christi                                      Yes

4.         Amarillo                                               Yes

5.         Houston                                               Yes

6.         Dallas                                                   Yes

7.         Austin                                                   No

8.         Weslaco                                               No

9.         McAllen                                               No

10.       Harlingen                                              No

11.       Brownsville                                           No

12.       Waco                                                   No

13.       San Angelo                                           No

14.       Port Arthur                                           No

15.       Wichita Falls                                         No

16.       Abilene                                     No

17.       Odessa                                                 No

18.       Garland                                                No

19.       Arlington                                              No

20.       Beaumont                                             No

21.       Bedford                                                No

22.       Midland                                                No

23.       Fort Worth                                           No

24.       Galveston                                             No

25.       Duncanville                                           No

26.       Plano                                                    No

27.       Georgetown                                         No

28.       Cedar Park                                          No

29.       Lubbock                                              No

30.       Marshall                                               No





El Paso

San Antonio





Civil Service














City employees














Appointed by







Term of office

3 years

2 years

3 years

3 years

2 years

3 years


No salary

$20 monthly

No salary

No salary

No salary

No salary

Meeting frequency



As needed



As needed

Final Authority regarding appeals

Civil Service Board

City Manager

Civil Service Board

City Manager

Trial Board/Administrative Law Judge

Civil Service Board

Type of meeting

Employee’s option













Eligibility List

Yes – 18 month






Promotional List








Power to subpoena witness

City Manager

Grievances and disciplinary action by C. S. Board

City Manager

City Commissioners

Civil Service Commission

Policies and Procedures

Departments may create specific policies, H. R. Director will sets the time limits

Departments may create specific policies but H. R. Director must approve it.

Departments may create specific policies but H. R. Director must approve it.

H R Director writes policies and Department heads can create policies as long as they don’t override the city’s policies.

Departments can create specific policies as long as they don’t override the city’s policy.

Departments can create specific policies as long as they don’t override the city’s policy.


Civil Service System proposal as compared to the City of Laredo Personnel System


                       Proposal                                                                       City

Excludes Department Directors, Assistant city Attorneys, Professional Non-Clerical Legal, Temporary Employees and Executives

Excludes Department Directors and Temporary employees

Limits executive employees to 2% of all employees

No limitations

Requires competitive and free examination as to fitness in regard to classified provision for a six month probation period

Requires applicants to meet minimum qualifications concerning knowledge, skills, and abilities, and a 12 month orientation period

Requires the Department Director to notify the Civil Service Commission of adverse employee action

Required the Department Director to review termination action with the Personnel Action Committee prior to taking action

Employee may request within 10 days an appeal of adverse action

Eligible employees may request within 10 days an appeal of adverse action to the Appeals and Grievance Committee

The final decision rests with the Civil Service Commission

The final decision rests with the City Manager after review of Appeals and Grievance Committee recommendation

All hearings are in Public

All hearings are in closed administrative meetings

The Department Director shall have burden to prove the charges made on the basis of the suspension by a preponderance of evidence

The employee and the Director both have the burden of proof before the Appeals and Grievance Committee

The right of the city employees to organize and join or refrain from joining an organization for the purpose of representation shall be recognized and protected by the City of Laredo

City employees have the right to organize and join an organization for the purpose of representation

The right of public employees to present grievances through a procedure to be established by the Civil Service Commission

Eligible employees can present grievances through a procedure established by ordinance

Hile in city uniform or at work was added to amend the City Charter Section  12.04 (a) (5)

No City employee

The proposed C. S. Charter amendment shall go into effect upon a majority vote of the qualified electors of the City of Laredo

The above provisions already exist under current Charter and Ordinances


            What are the advantages and disadvantages of a Civil Service system?


                    Advantage                                                                      Disadvantages

Satisfies some special interest groups

May not represent the will of the employees

Works well with a Mayor form of government

Contradicts City Council/City Manager form of government

Promotes fairness and removes excessive political interference from H R activities

Hinders HR and operation efficiency

Sets up rigid guidelines for HR related activities

Promotes bureaucratic inflexibility

Allows a public forum to discuss personal employment matters

Exposes personal and sometimes sensitive employment issues to the public

Provides for politically appointed positions to govern City administrative matters

Allows for citizens to govern and rule on key employment related issues with limited internal knowledge

Reflects the will of the voting majority

May be in conflict with the current City Charter

Allows for citizen involvement in employee appeals and grievances

Difficult to schedule citizens in appeals and grievance matters

Empowers citizens authority

Diminishes Department Directors’ and City Manager’s authority

Encourages “for cause” termination

Erodes “Employment at Will” status and established due process for termination


How does our current Appeals and Grievance Committee operate and what are the results?


            Appeals and Grievance Committee


  • Committee composed by five voting members
    • Serve two year terms
    • Mayor appointee acts as chair
    • CA & ASD Advisory


            City Manager


            Committee includes:


            City Manager Appointee

            City Manager Appointee

            Mayor Appointee

            Employee Elected

            Employee Elected

            City Attorney Non-Voting

            ASD Director Non Voting


            Appeals and Grievance Committee


  • Ordinance modified in 2002
    • Clarified the procedures
    • Clarified the procedures
    • Clarified the election process
    • Defined the terms of the member to promote
      • Experience
      • Continuity

Outcome of Ordinance modification

    • Decreasing trend in termination for cause over the last three years
    • Decreasing trend in appeals and grievances filed
  • Committee activity for five years
    • 103 Appeals and Grievances filed
    • 84 were reviewed
    • 87% City Manager concurred with recommendation of the committee
    • 13% City Manager did not concur with recommendation of the Committee
  • Committee activity for five years
    • 103 Appeals and Grievances filed
    • 92 were reviewed
    • 29% were employee favorable
    • 71% were employer favorable






·        Civil Service Systems

·        Civil Service Systems compared to City

·        Advantages and Disadvantages

·        Current Appeals and Grievance Committee




·        Continue with our current system

·        Switch from the current personnel system by adopting a civil service system through an amendment of the City Charter


IV.       Executive Session


The City Council hereby reserves the right to go into executive session at any time during this public meeting, if such is requested by the City Attorney or other legal counsel for the City, pursuant to his or her duty under Section 551.071(2) of the Government Code, to consult privately with his or her client on an item on the agenda, or on a matter arising out of such item. 


V.        Adjournment


            Motion to adjourn.                                                                                            Time:  6:29 p.m.


            Moved:  Cm.  Agredano                      

            Second:  Cm.  Belmares

            For:     7                                               Against:  0                                            Abstain:  0


I, Gustavo Guevara, Jr., City Secretary, do hereby certify that the above and foregoing is a true and correct copy of the minutes contained in pages 01 to 8 and they are true, complete, and correct proceedings of the City Council meeting held on April 12, 2005.




                                                                                    Gustavo Guevara, Jr.

                    City Secretary