ActivePaper Archive Hobbs city manager hunting for new job - Hobbs News Sun, 2015-08-28

Hobbs city manager hunting for new job

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Murphy

After serving three years, Hobbs City Manager J.J. Murphy has set out on a job search outside the state. The News-Sun recently learned Murphy applied for a city manager position in Farmington Hills, Mich. through a Wednesday article by Hometownlife.com, a suburban Detroit news outlet.

According to the news article, out of eight initial candidates, the Farmington Hills City Council narrowed its list of candidates to Murphy and three others: acting City Manager Dave Boyer, Director of Central Services Michael Lasley of Farmington Hills, and James

A. Jackson, former interim chief administrative officer and director of public works for the city of Richmond, Va.

A Farmington Hills city official further indicated in the article that Murphy was also applying for “another opportunity in the region.” Murphy was unavailable for comment as of press time Thursday. A Hobbs city officials said he’s on personal leave through Monday.

The news caught Hobbs city commissioners, who roundly praised Murphy’s job performance, by surprise.

“I’m a little surprised to see Mr. Murphy has applied for Farmington Hills as well as in other places, as it appears in the news report,” Mayor Sam Cobb said. “I just have to tell you I’m surprised to see that quite honestly.”

“I’m surprised,” Commissioner Joe Calderon added. “He said he was happy here and everything we’re doing here. We had a special meeting Tuesday to talk about the Health, Wellness and Learning Center and some of the other projects.” “I’m just surprised,” Calderon concluded. “I didn’t have a clue.” While Cobb said he was unaware of Murphy ever expressing discontent with the job or community, he entertained the idea that the “public discussion” surrounding his salary impacted his decision to search for employment elsewhere. “This may have been what prompted him to see what other opportunities are out there,” Cobb said. Murphy ultimately bowed out of a possible three percent merit raise he was up for this year. Both officials said they believe the City of Hobbs can do little else to encourage Murphy to continue his employment should he decide to terminate his tenure. Cobb argued that the current five-year employment agreement Murphy signed with the City of Hobbs is among the best in the state, on par with communities the size of Hobbs nationwide. Murphy currently has a $176,835.36 salary on top of a benefits package that has broadened over the years. A clause within the contract forbids the City from reducing the compensation, salary or benefits of the city manager, “except to the degree of such a reduction across-the-board for all employees of the City.” As stipulated within the contract, Murphy would not be entitled to a severance package should he choose to resign, “unless the parties agree otherwise.” Cobb and Calderon said they were against offering a severance package to Murphy, except the paid time-off he’s accrued throughout the year. Murphy currently accrues 20 hours per month. The News-Sun was unable to confirm the amount of paid time-off Murphy accrued this year as of press time. Earlier this year, Murphy applied for the vacancy of county administrator in Palm Beach, Fla. The Palm Beach Commission ultimately eliminated Murphy as a candidate during the process in May. Cobb said he and the commission were aware of that employment opportunity, but not the city manager position at Farmington Hills.

“It (the opening at Farmington Hills) could’ve been back at about the same time that the Florida application was sent as well,” he went on to say. “It’s certainly not a violation of his employment contract nor has it impacted the performance of his duties.”

The News-Sun was unable to confirm the date Murphy applied for the position in Michigan.

Both Calderon and Cobb went on to praise Murphy’s performance and said they would likely provide a recommendation.

“Super, super, super,” Calderon said of a hypothetical reference. “He’s on the go-go-go. Very innovative. The employees like him. He goes out of his way; about two-three Saturdays ago when we had the community cleanup, he went out there with the employees picking up stuff and that’s what they like. I’d say it’d be a loss for us and something great for them.”

“I’ve been pleased with his job performance during his time here in Hobbs,” Cobb said. “If I had job performance issues with him, those would’ve been clearly spelled out when we did his performance evaluation, and we would’ve communicated those to him. But I think he’s done a good job during the time he’s been here.”

The Hometownlife.com article stated the interview process is underway and candidates will be introduced to the community through a meet-and-greet. The council hasn’t set dates for either the interviews or community tours.

Farmington Hills Mayor Barry Brickner said he wants to complete the process by November before he leaves office.

Farmington Hills is a Detroit suburb of some 80,000 and has a median household income of $66,542 and a median home value of $232,878, according to the city’s official website.

An official announced Farmington Hills was ranked the second safest in Michigan and 44th in the country, according to the minutes of an Emergency Preparedness Commission meeting held in March.