ActivePaper Archive Murphy pay raise tabled - Hobbs News Sun, 7/7/2015


Murphy pay raise tabled



The Hobbs City Commission voted 6-1 to table a possible five percent increase in City Manager J.J. Murphy’s salary during its meeting Monday.

If passed, the two percent cost of living raise and three percent merit raise, would’ve boosted Murphy’s salary by almost $10,000 to $182,036.40.

This would’ve been Murphy’s fourth amended contract with the city in little more than three years since being hired in 2012.

Mayor Sam Cobb made the motion to table the resolution, saying he thought it was the “best thing for us to do this evening.”

“With holidays and different things like that, we’ve had situations where commissioners have been out of town, so it’s been hard for us all to get together in the same room and discuss those things,” Cobb said. “I would just like to give it a couple more weeks, with all of us in the same room, and have some discussions.”

Cobb said the resolution would return within the next few weeks to the city commission for a vote.

City officials, including Cobb and Murphy, have characterized the salary raise as “across the board” for all city employees. The City of Hobbs budgeted for a two percent cost of living raise for all employees as well as a possible three percent merit raise pending departmental review.

Murphy said the city would be honoring his five-year contract by approving the salary bump. His initial salary was $140,000. Now it’s $173,368, not including benefits, according to city records.

That’s almost a 24 percent increase in salary in about three years.

In comparison, City Manager Robert Garza of Las Cruces, a city with a population of more than 100,000, has a $179,827 salary, according to an April 2015 Las Cruces Sun-News article.

Roswell City Manager Steve Polasek takes home $154,999.94, according to the city clerk’s office. He started his tenure in November and opted out of taking a salary increase because he was new to the job, a city official said. He stayed at his starting pay.

“Because I received a very positive evaluation, I believe the city commission on the agenda on Monday will vote for a five percent salary increase,” Murphy said in an interview with the News-Sun a week ago.

Murphy declined to comment following Monday’s city commission meeting.

A recent editorial published July 2 in blasted the city manager for his “sense of entitlement” and the commission for “consent(ing) to these princely benefits.”

Cobb rebuked any notion his tabling of the resolution had anything to do with the editorial. “This had nothing to do with the article,” he said.

Commissioner Crystal Mullins of District 3 was the only commissioner to vote against tabling the resolution. She was not available for comment as of press time.

“I believe that J.J. Murphy is a fantastic city manager that has earned the five percent raise,” District 2 Commissioner Jonathan Sena said. “At the same time, if other commissioners, or members of the commission, want a little more time to visit or to have a conversation and discussion about that, I think it’s fair to give them a little more time to look over things.”

The commission had previously approved of Murphy’s three prior contracts by unanimous vote.

The commission also unanimously voted to approve a $885,956.28 contract with Dustrol, Inc. to resurface various city arterial streets with asphalt at about $2.25 per square yard.

Work is expected to begin sometime mid-July on about eight miles of street total, according to city planner Kevin Robinson.

Work will be done on the following streets: Grimes (Bender to Marland), Turner (Silver to Broadway), West Marland (Railroad right of way to West County Road), Prairie Haven Cemetery Road, Sanger (Dal Paso to Grimes), Jack Gomez Blvd. and Business Park.

Commissioner John Boyd reminded the audience that rebuilding a street completely costs about $3-$4 million per mile. This process would recycle the road at a rate of about $75,000-$80,000 per mile.

Ronny Choate, director of city general services, said the process operates at a quick pace and would complete the Grimes project, for instance, in about four days.

The Commission unanimously voted to approve of a $175,000 change order for the replacement of a sewer trunk line running from Sanger, north of Humble Park, to the railroad intersection at Grimes. This brings the total bill to $2 million.

This is the latest development with J&H Services in rehabilitating sewer mains running under commercial highways. These sewer mains, built in the ‘80s and used lined concrete sewer pipe, have “severely deteriorated,” according to a City of Hobbs press release. Five miles of concrete sewer pipelines are collapsing, which the city has to replace. The Commission also approved by unanimous vote:

• The final adoption of the issuance and sale of multi-family housing revenue bonds to rehabilitate the Washington Place Apartments.

• The publication of proposed ordinance authorizing a boundary replat and exchange of municipal fee simple property for property located south of E. Bender and Ranchland Drive.

Sean Czarnecki can be reached at 391-5434 or reporter1@