Greg Murray

Punta Gorda Manager Greg Murray

PUNTA GORDA — There was nothing but high praise for City Manager Greg Murray in his first City Council evaluation this week in Punta Gorda.

Murray was hired in August 2020, and spent around two months shadowing then-city manager Howard Kunik, who served as the city’s top administrator for 15 years.

Murray took over the position Oct. 1, 2020, and “the ball kept rolling, and maybe even picked up some momentum,” City Council Member Nancy Prafke said at Wednesday’s meeting.

The City Council approved a 4% raise for Murray to go along with the positive evaluation. His salary was $140,000 per year before the increase.

With the raise, Murray will earn $145,600 a year.

The 4% raise is congruent with what the city’s general employees were able to earn based upon merit, Assistant City Manager Melissa Reichert told The Daily Sun.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Mayor Lynne Matthews said it was an honor and privilege to serve with new city manager.

“I think it’s the best decision we’ve made since I’ve been serving on City Council,” she said.

In eight categories, each council member’s score for Murray ranged from 4 to 5 on a 1-to-5 scale.

Of a 40-point total score, Murray received an averaged 39.47.

The categories included leadership, service delivery management, interactions with others, organization and planning, judgement and decision making, ability to communicate, integrity and performance objectives.

Objectives involved items like city infrastructure evaluation, long-term staffing and organizational analysis, identifying program and policy initiatives, identify and support of strategic goals and other objectives, and developing a plan to tie strategic and operation initiatives together through budgetary support to create a five-year pro forma.

One of Murray’s main actions this past year was implementing a five-year financial budget plan to accomplish some of these objectives, such as additional staffing.

That plan led to a property tax increase of 16.8% more next year — the largest since an 18% jump in 2013.

Murray and the plan received backlash from residents as a result of the increase, but the property tax change was eventually approved by the City Council in September.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Vice Mayor Debby Carey said she’s heard nothing but good things from the community regarding Murray.

“I hear all the time from constituents that they feel like there is a much more can-do attitude (under Murray’s leadership) when they talk to city staff,” Carey said.

She also said that under his leadership, there is less of an “I don’t know if we can do that or not response,” and more of a “Let’s see how we can get this done.”

“I think that carries out into the community and affects everybody,” Carey said.

The praise continued from City Council Members John Miller and Jaha Cummings.

Miller said city staff has blossomed and gone beyond what they have done in the past.

“That shows to great leadership,” he said.

Cummings echoed the other council members’ sentiment, adding, “You’re such a great researcher and I think you really take the time to look under the hood.”

Murray was appreciative of the praise and said he will continue to improve on how the city operates.

“It’s been a pleasure taking this first year to get to know the city of Punta Gorda much better and some of the nuances, as well as where we are and where we needed to be,” Murray said. “The help the City Council has provided and the input provided has been invaluable.”

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