Jan 132012

By Teri Walker–

The Holbrook City Council leveled high praise and unanimous votes of confidence at City Manager Ray Alley as they conducted his annual review during Tuesday night’s council meeting.

“I can’t think of a better person to serve the City of Holbrook,” said Councilman Richard Peterson during the review, which Alley elected to hold as a public discussion rather than convening an executive session.

Vice Mayor Charles Haussmann said, “I’m very pleased with your performance overall. Highlighting your double duty as city manager and public works director, you’ve gotten the city budget under control. It’s been a pleasure to see the city gain some fiscal responsibility.”

Alley took the city manager position in January of 2010, replacing Carlo Pilgrim. He had previously worked for the city from 1980 through 1989, during which time he was assistant city manager and finance director, and was then promoted to city manager before he left to operate a few of his own private businesses.

Alley is an at-will employee; he does not work under contract with the city.

“You do a tremendous job and take care of so many problems that could come to council, but you have an ability to know everyone and address concerns without having to involve the council,” said Councilman Myron Maxwell. “I see the inner workings at the city and the people are happy; people are working together. I dread the day you decide not to work here anymore.”

“It’s been both a pleasure and an honor,” said Councilman Phil Cobb, addressing Alley. “You’ve done everything I expect from a city manager.”

Councilman Wade Carlisle offered a concise, “Good job!”

Alley earns $91,000 a year, and along with all other city employees, has not had a pay raise since returning to work for the city.

Navajo County Manager Jimmy Jayne submitted a letter to be read to the council, applauding Alley’s service to the city and positive working relationship with the county.

After a vote of the council, Haussmann said, “Manager Alley has chosen not to work under contract, he chooses to remain at will, without any pay increases. He will continue to work at the will of the council.”

Alley responded, “It’s been a pleasure working with this council. I’ve worked for the city for a number of years and this is one of my favorite councils. There are no hidden agendas. There are none of the petty items that have no place in politics. I do my best job for the city and the people, and plan on continuing to do the job because it’s my hometown.”

Mayor Jeff Hill, who attended the council meeting via phone conference added, “Ray, it’s always an honor and pleasure working with you. I appreciate your support. Keep going. Things are getting done.”

In his report to the council, Hill said he is currently working from Phoenix, where he is participating in an outpatient program, which he later clarified is an alcohol treatment program. He said he is still a Holbrook resident and plans to address the council in person at the Jan. 24 meeting.

In other business, the council approved a proclamation designating the week of Feb. 6-11 Hashknife Pony Express Week.

A second proclamation naming January National Mentoring Month was also approved. The proclamation highlighted the need for more investment in and partnership with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program.

An organization representative said there are currently 80 kids on the waiting list in Holbrook for a Big Brother or Big Sister, and noted that the regional chapter is hoping to recruit “31 mentors in 31 days.” For information about participating with the youth mentoring program, call (928) 537-1996.

In other action Jan. 10, the council:

* Was advised by Alley that the water and wastewater department had tapped into the city’s water line on McLaws Road in preparation for tying a new drinking well into the municipal water system.

* Was advised by Alley that the city road crews would be sealing cracks in the roads of neighborhoods in the areas of Anita Drive, Encanto Drive, Crestview Drive and Helen Avenue.

* Received a report from Assistant City Manager and Finance Director Randy Sullivan noting that the annual audit was positive, with only a few minor suggestions resulting, which the city will be following up on.

“We want the public to know we’re doing well not overspending budgets,” said Sullivan. “The auditor suggestions are very simple and straightforward, and we’re going to implement them to satisfy those findings.”

Sullivan and Alley said some of the findings related to division of duties.

“Because we have such a small staff, we have the same person doing several duties,” said Alley. “We need to split some of that up.”

* Was advised by Alley that the Holbrook Business Development Group (HBDG), a newly formed community organization, had requested a work session with the city council in February to discuss the group’s aims. He also mentioned HBDG would be hosting a community forum to discuss potash mining at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 29, in the George Gardner Performing Arts Center.

* Tabled an agenda item dealing with appointing an interim magistrate to handle conflict of interest cases in the Holbrook Magistrate Court. The agenda item was intended to be a council vote on whether to approve the appointment of LuAnn Garbini, a Navajo County employee, to handle a specific case involving a ticket issued to Holbrook Police Chief Mark Jackson because his dog bit a passerby.

Alley explained City Magistrate Evelyn Marez requested the appointment to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest that could occur should a city employee preside over the case of another city employee.

Marez was not in attendance at the meeting and the council had questions that Alley couldn’t answer, which prompted the decision to table the action until the next council meeting.

The next regular council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 24, at city hall, located at 465 First Ave.