J.J. Murphy’s job as Hobbs’ city manager will come to an end on Aug. 23 but the City Commission voted Monday to keep him as a special consultant for 10 months.
During Monday’s City Commission meeting, commissioners approved in a 5-2 vote an employment transition and settlement agreement with Murphy where he will transition as a special consultant to the mayor and city commission until June 30, 2018. Commissioners Gary Buie and Marshall Newman voted against the transition and settlement agreement.
Buie said he had no comment on his no vote. Newman was not available for comment after Monday’s meeting.
Mayor Sam Cobb asked Murphy if he was “agreeable to document as it stands” before the commission made its vote. Murphy said, “yes.”
In the new agreement, Murphy will be paid a lump sum of $93,000 at the time of his transition, which is about $20,000 less than his current contractual benefits. He will also be paid $183,976 in wages through June 2018 and will be entitled to any accrued PTO and military leave as of Aug. 23. His city-provided health insurance, dental and vision insurance will continue until the end of June 2018. His legal fee will also be paid up to $10,000.
“I think this is going to be a positive transition,” Murphy said. “I’m still going to work hard if they ask me to give insights. There’s millions of dollars of projects going on. At this point I think there are challenges with leadership. Some people don’t want to see change and I understand it and respect it.”
Murphy’s former severance contract had the city potentially paying him his current $182,000 salary in one lump sum and including health insurance for Murphy and his family as well as short and long-term disability for one year unless he found employment. In all, the severance package had the city paying to the tune of some $300,000 for Murphy’s departure.
A modified severance package that was voted down in October would have retained him at his current salary for one year as a consultant, paid him a vehicle allowance and some insurance coverage. Cobb said after that October meeting it would have cost the city somewhere in the neighborhood of “a little less than $200,000.”
Murphy said with secured employment for the next several months he is going to take time to figure out his next move.
“I think it will be good to take a pause and spend more time with my family and see what the future holds,” Murphy said. “I have some applications out there and I think this will give me some time to take a step back. I might look at other avenues. I’m in no pressure now. I think I’ll actually pull back some applications because now I have secured employment through next June. It was the unknown that had me concerned for my family.”
Commissioner Joe Calderon apologized to Murphy’s family at the end of Monday’s meeting. He said he knows that Murphy transitioning from the city manager position is affecting their family.
“J.J., you’re in transition but you’ve been a good friend. Believe it or not this old man has learned from you,” Calderon said. “We owe you an apology because they forget families in the background when they do this.”