Before she was placed on paid administrative leave for 30 days, Terri Velasquez spent 23 years climbing up through the ranks of city government to become chief financial officer.
Velasquez joined the city in November 1987 as a part-time employee making $7.31 an hour.
Two years later, Velasquez became a full-time employee working as an “auditor,” and her hourly pay almost doubled to $13.71, according to her job history.
She worked as an auditor through November 1993, when she was promoted to “accounting section supervisor” with an annual salary of $38,567, or $18.54 an hour. She continued to work in that position for the next 3 ½ years.
In June 1997, Velasquez became “business system analyst,” earning $25.16 an hour, or $52,330 a year.
Two years later, she became the manager of accounting and payroll. Her hourly pay jumped to $29.03, earning just over $60,000 a year. She stayed in that position until July 2004. By that time, Velasquez was making $41.49 an hour, or $86,300 a year.
In August 2004, Velasquez became the city’s finance director, a job that paid $95,000 a year.
Velasquez was the city’s finance director through July 2008. By then, she was making $70.99 an hour, or $147,657 a year.
She was promoted to chief financial officer under former City Manager Penelope Culbreth-Graft in September 2008, increasing her hourly pay to $76.31, or $158,731 a year.
Velasquez got a raise of $3.45 an hour the following year, bringing her annual pay to $165,898.
When Steve Cox took over as acting city manager, a position he held until Mayor Steve Bach made him his chief of staff, Cox gave Velasquez a new title – and less money.
As financial administrative services director, Velasquez made $74.37 an hour, or $154,688 a year.
City officials say they don’t know why Velasquez was placed on paid administrative leave or they aren’t saying.
“Steve Cox made that decision. He was authorized to make that decision, and I knew about it advance,” the mayor said after the State of the City address last week.
“I cannot say (why). It’s a personnel matter,” he said.
Velasquez did not return a message left at her home. A person familiar with the situation who asked to remain anonymous said Velasquez “won’t get a severance” if she breaks her silence.
Velasquez always seemed knowledgeable about city finances.
However, Velasquez was involved in a few embarrassing mistakes, from underestimating the 2008 property-tax revenue by $422,571 to projecting a 1.8 percent decline in revenue for 2010 when it actually came in much higher, which one official called a “$10 million to $12 million mistake.”
Can anybody say Dianne Sawyer?