PUNTA GORDA — Punta Gorda has officially found its new city manager in Gregory Murray, a former county administrator for Washington County, Md.
Murray will be the first new manager for Punta Gorda in 15 years, a position currently held by Howard Kunik, who will retire in October.
“Now, you’re on the hook,” said Mayor Nancy Prafke jokingly at Wednesday’s City Council meeting after Murray’s contract was approved. “Welcome to the club ... to the community.”
The city manager serves as chief administrative officer of the city.
Murray will begin employment with the city on Aug. 24.
Murray did not attend the meeting, but in an email to the Sun he wrote, “Punta Gorda is a vibrant, beautiful city. I am honored to be given the opportunity to work with the team serving our residents.”
“When looking at city government, I have seen a dedicated City Council, hard-working employee base, and engaged community,” Murray continued, “which is a measure of the caliber of City operations. I look forward to becoming involved with the city and community to help accomplish the goals set by the City Council and move the city forward.”
Murray worked in government for 35 years, most recently serving as county administrator for 10 years in Washington County.
In 2017, he retired to pursue other opportunities, according to the resumé he provided to the city.
“I have had a substantial amount of experience in public administration, starting from the bottom and working my way to the top,” Murray said. “It has helped me develop a perspective and skill set that prepared me for managing large organizational structures.”
Murray will receive a base salary of $140,000 a year, according to the contract.
He will be “on-call” 24 hours a day and agrees to be available as needed.
The City Council holds the right to terminate him from the position at any time.
Murray also has the right to resign at any time from the position.
The City Council will review Murray’s performance annually, for consideration of an increase in salary the amount of which, if any, shall be the sole judgment of the City Council, and part of the budget cycle.
Murray will be entitled to discuss the evaluation with individual members of the City Council.
If the council members decide that no increase in salary will be given, they will explain the general terms as to why.
The City Council may otherwise evaluate Murray’s performance as it deems appropriate.
“Punta Gorda has been fortunate to have a very competent and dedicated long-term manager (in Kunik) who has helped the City Council move the city forward and created a very stable base from which to work,” Murray said. “With the diversity and accomplishments of my background, I can now step in and continue those initiatives with the hard work needed to help the City Council accomplish their goals.”
While serving Washington County, Murray also worked with nine municipalities within the county by assisting with issues at the local, state and federal level, according to a Punta Gorda press release.
Murray said that there are always similar challenges in different political subdivisions, including financial, utilities, long-range planning — comprehensive plans and zoning, public safety, employee base and economic development initiatives — growth and development historical preservation and senior services, among others.
“It is really not where you managed, but what was managed and how successfully,” Murray said in the release. “The similarity is that it is exciting to tackle the challenges and help resolve them to support the elected officials in accomplishing their goals to move the city forward. That is a common bond and exciting to continue here.”