ActivePaper Archive Commission delivers evaluation - Hobbs News Sun, 2016-06-17

• CITY OF HOBBS

Commission delivers evaluation

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Murphy

It looks like the City of Hobbs will keep its city manager for at least another year.

The Hobbs City Commission met in closed session Wednesday afternoon to discuss City Manager J.J. Murphy’s contract and deliver his evaluation. These discussions are held each summer to decide if any changes need to be made to the city manager’s contract. Also, a 3 percent merit raise and 2 percent cost of living raise for Murphy were discussed.

Last year, Murphy declined the merit raise, but accepted the cost of living raise, citing the more difficult economic times the city is facing. Once a decision is reached on the raises and any changes to the contract, the commission will vote on it in a public meeting.

“All the commission gave him their evaluation both in writing and verbally, and we had discussions about that,” Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb said immediately after the meeting. “Mr. Murphy exited the room, and we had some discussions about a consideration of a contract. He’s not due for a contract for one year, but we’ve had some discussions about whether or not we are going to offer him another contract for five additional years.”

He also said the commission planned to think about the possibility of a second five-year contract after his current contract ends in 2017 and pointed out that the session had only been for discussion with no decisions made.

According to Murphy, the commission did not feel comfortable making the decision toward a second five-year contract at this time due to the city’s finances, although Cobb said on Wednesday that the commission planned to consider the possibility in the future.

“While the mayor and I agreed to basic terms, the commission is not comfortable moving forward with a long-term commitment at this time,” Murphy said. “Recognizing the challenges of the current local economy, I can understand their position.”

Murphy is among the highest-paid city managers in the State of New Mexico with a base salary of $173,349 and numerous benefits.

These benefits include an accrued 20 hours a month of paid time off, a $750 monthly vehicle allowance plus a city vehicle and fuel for any official business more than 125 miles away and travel to organization meetings and developmental courses, payment of professional organization dues and fees, a 401(a) retirement plan, the same housing incentive received by certified police officers and $7,000 of bereavement expenses to be used for travel in the event of the death or severe illness of an immediate family member. In previous interviews Cobb and all six city commissioners voiced satisfaction with Murphy, although District 3 Commissioner Pat Taylor voiced some discomfort with Murphy’s salary and benefits and District 1 Commissioner Marshall Newman said that although he was content with Murphy’s performance as city manager, he heard some negative comments from his constituents and planned to factor them into his evaluation.

Murphy also said he was “quite fortunate” to be able to serve as the Hobbs city manager and that he was grateful for all the support he and his family have received from the local community.

Charlie Benton can be reached at 575-391-5434 or reporter1@hobbsnews.com.