MONTEBELLO – The Montebello City Council has decided to move ahead with the removal of long-time City Administrator Richard Torres. In a closed-session performance evaluation of Torres at Wednesday’s meeting, the council voted 3-2 to work out the details of his separation agreement at its March 14 meeting, said Mayor Norma Lopez-Reid. The three-vote majority calling for Torres’ removal were Lopez-Reid and council members Jeff Siccama and Bob Bagwell. Rosie Vasquez and Bill Molinari were opposed. All three members of the majority have cited their desire to “move in a different direction” as the reason for replacing Torres. Torres is one of the longest-running city administrators in the area, having served nearly 18 years in Montebello. Torres could not be reached for comment Friday. “We need new ideas,” Bagwell said. “(Torres) has been a great crisis manager, but we seem to be stuck in a deficit budget and we’re not moving forward. We need new ideas and leadership.” But Vasquez said removing Torres would weaken the city beyond repair. She said the council majority had damaged the city’s unity already by firing three other department heads since gaining the three-vote edge in the 2005 elections. Those included fire chief Jim Cox, community development director Ruben Lopez and city attorney Marco Martinez. “A lot of people don’t know this, but (Torres) turned down a $25,000 raise,” Vasquez said. “He said the city couldn’t afford it and he didn’t need it. And he’s lived here all his life and cares about the city. “This is a very sad day and it’s just another blunder that will cost us thousands of dollars,” she added. Vasquez was referring to Torres’s $131,000 annual salary which was found to be the lowest in a survey last year of nearby comparable cities, done by the City Whittier. “I believe he has an exemplary legacy,” Vasquez said. “He’s been a fine example of an administrator who’s dedicated his entire professional career to Montebello.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029 165Let’s talk business.Catch up on the business news closest to you with our daily newsletter. Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!