ActivePaper Archive Another boondoggle from Hobbs’ city manager - Hobbs News Sun, 2016-03-20

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Another boondoggle from Hobbs’ city manager

To the editor: Hobbs is finally abuzz with talk about our city officials and their boondoggles in 2016. First, another heaping helping of lodgers’ tax money went into the Rockwind golf course – or “Windsock,” as I affectionately call it, because of all the money just thrown to the wind on it. Now reports of this Italy trip – mamma mia! On that note, I would like to provide your readers with an update to my research regarding the City of Hobbs ordinance that provides for annual cash payouts to employees for paid time off balances in excess of set caps set by the Hobbs City Commission. In late December I shared the history of the city’s PTO ordinance, proposed by City Manager J.J. Murphy in December 2012 and passed by the city commission in January 2013, only months into the city manager’s tenure. To make the conversion to this new system in 2013 ... the City of Hobbs paid out more than $1.4 million to employees for their accrued vacation and sick-leave balances, although “use it or lose it” is a very common practice in government regarding sick leave. In January of 2014, 83 employees received their first “cap payments” for their excess PTO. Gross pay appearing on the pay stubs that were provided through a records request totaled $163,486, ranged from $32 to nearly $8,500, and averaged $1,969 per recipient. In October 2014, Murphy convinced the commission to amend his five-year contract a third time since his hiring in 2012. With just more than two years under his belt as a City of Hobbs employee, he was approved to accrue PTO at the same rate as employees who’ve been employed by the City of Hobbs for more than 20 years – 20 hours per month. In January 2015, Murphy’s balance of PTO resulted in a cap payment of $11,418 (before taxes). Including Murphy, 93 employees shared in payouts totaling $216,191 in gross pay, an average of $2,324 per recipient. Payouts ranged from $33 to Murphy’s $11,418. In January 2016, Murphy’s before-tax payout was $12,242. Including Murphy, 90 employees shared in payouts totaling $232,967 (before taxes), ranging from $21 to Murphy’s $12,242. The average gross pay was $2,560. Who else out there wishes they received an after-Christmas bonus? Anyone else out there currently looking for a job? An article in the Hobbs News-Sun on Dec. 30, 2012, quotes Murphy as saying there were 148,000 hours of sick leave on the books and that, after the conversion to PTO, “we will see 20,000 hours of sick leave less per year” and “annual savings to the city will be about $400,000.” Have these savings been reported and verified since 2013? Does the commission plan to review these findings and hold the city manager accountable? It appears that the payouts are only getting larger individually – particularly for Murphy – and in total. If the numbers are getting bigger each year, how is this not just another boondoggle?

Byron Marshall

Hobbs

Hobbs taxpayers should be upset about Italy trip The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal newspaper ran a story regarding a trip three Hobbs city officials ventured to Italy to examine a swimming pool. Citizens of Hobbs should be very upset with this irresponsible use of tax dollars and should examine the rules regarding such expenditures to see if proper approval was obtained before such a trip was made. According to the article, the company has similar pools in Arizona and Colorado. I cannot imagine a city government needing such an extravagant pool system that this trip would be prudent. If I was a citizen of Hobbs, I would be starting a petition/campaign to make sure the officials were grounded before they took anymore overseas vacations on my dollar. From a very concerned citizen and not even my tax dollars.

Tony R. Thornton

Lubbock

Hobbs resident dismayed over waste of money over Italy trip I would like to add my voice to the many who are displeased with the actions of our city officials who recently wasted tax payer money on an needless trip to Italy. I am completely dismayed that there is even a consideration of using a company in a foreign country when there a hundreds of excellent United States pool companies. The honest thing to do is for the three so called public servants to immediately reimburse the tax payers for this boondoggle out of their own pockets. This entire incident only gives a stronger argument for more open city meeting of all kinds which affect we as citizens and tax payers.