ActivePaper Archive Hobbs transitioning to new city manager - Hobbs News Sun, 2016-10-02

Commentary

Hobbs transitioning to new city manager

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I would like to take the time to inform you of the numerous conversations we have held with our City Manager, J.J. Murphy, over the last several months. In anticipation of entering the last year of his 5-year contract, we began discussions to see what options we could honor and accomplish moving forward. With the current local economic difficulties, it has been challenging to defend an extension in the same salary range as he currently receives. As a community, we are fortunate that both Mr. Murphy and the commission acknowledge this challenge and are willing to work collaboratively to come to a resolution. Thus, we have spent considerable time discussing a transition plan which would benefit all stakeholders, including the residents of Hobbs.

The City Commission directed Mr. Murphy to look for work outside the organization in early August and, in exchange, both sides would work towards an amended contract with 100 percent commitment for a positive transition. As a result, tomorrow night the City Commission will vote on an amended contract in which, if passed, Mr. Murphy would receive a reduced severance compared to what he would be entitled to if he waited until August 2018 to depart. This agreement calls for Mr. Murphy to provide the City Commission and a new City Manager almost two years of guidance on many complicated projects and any employee related issues. The key elements of the agreement provide for the following:

1. Cessation of employment as City Manager on or before June 1, 2017.

2. A continuation of Mr. Murphy’s employment as a special consultant to the Mayor and City Commission through July 2, 2018.

These transition agreements are very common when amicable separation can occur between an individual and the entity he or she is serving and there are many upcoming issues/projects to address. Of specific importance are several large projects underway in Hobbs in which Mr. Murphy has and continues to play a critical role for completion. Sharing institutional knowledge related to these projects with his successor can provide potential cost savings to the city and eliminate project delays.

Our $200 million dollar budget with 500 city employees is extremely complex. During his tenure, Mr. Murphy has provided solid leadership in delivering our initiatives, reducing legacy costs and guiding this workforce. This arrangement closely resembles what the City of Hobbs provided the last two departing City Managers in order to have the similar consistency during transitional times. I want the community to know, that I believe J.J. Murphy’s shared vision with the City Commission and the Mayor’s office coupled with his ability to work with our highly competent and highly committed City Staff has created the following important legacy projects for our community:

1. PUBLIC SAFETY – Since his arrival, Mr. Murphy has been a huge advocate in bringing our police force staffing levels from the low of 62 when he arrived to almost 100 officers today. In the Fire Department his team just received a SAFER grant which will fund another seven firefighters.

2. Housing Incentives – these incentives have created approximately $150,000,000 in new multi-family and single family homes in our City.

3. Effluent Re-use Project – this project has provided additional fire protection for the west side of our City and is saving approximately 500,000,000 gallons a year of our precious municipal water supply.

4. Rockwind Community Links – an award-winning golf course, dining venue and walking trail that will serve us well for many years to come.

5. The Center of Recreational Excellence (CORE) – this $63.5 million project that has just broken ground, will be another bar setting project for our community and will provide years of recreational and economic development opportunities.

6. City Park – a $4.5 million re-build of our existing City Park.

7. Veteran’s Memorial Park – a $5.5 million upgrade of our baseball, softball and youth activity fields.

8. He has significantly improved morale throughout the city workforce.

Filling the city manager position will be challenging, but cooperation from all involved will only improve and expedite the change from one leader to the next. Mr. Murphy and his family have been a positive addition to our community. I hope you will join me in both supporting and recognizing the lasting impact Mr. Murphy has had on our organization and the quality of life in Hobbs.

Sam Cobb is the mayor of Hobbs.