On Tuesday, the Cortez City Council voted unanimously to approve a contract with John Dougherty of Kingman, Arizona, making him the new city manager.
Dougherty was one of five finalists the city has been considering since former city manager Shane Hale’s departure in May. Most recently from Kingman, Arizona, he has served as city manager in five previous towns, three of which fired him or failed to renew his contract. His first day as Cortez city manager will be July 9.
The contract that the council approved on Tuesday includes a $106,000 annual salary for Dougherty, just under the $106,304 salary that Hale received in 2017. Hale’s salary was raised to $110,025 in January 2018. The council didn’t spend much time discussing the contract during Tuesday’s regular meeting, but Mayor Karen Sheek said it was the result of extensive discussions between council members and Dougherty in previous executive sessions. The council held a third executive session on the city manager position just before the regular meeting on Tuesday. Although a piece of paper announcing the session was posted at the entrance to City Hall on Tuesday, it was not included in the workshop agenda on the city website.
Dougherty attended the meeting with his wife, Ruthanna, and said a few words of thanks after the council’s vote.
“I’m looking forward to getting started here,” he said.
Sheek said interim manager Chris Burkett would be available to help Dougherty settle in, and she offered her personal help to Ruthanna Dougherty during the couple’s move to Cortez. “We are very much looking forward to having you come, and we’re looking forward to working together with you closely over the next years to move this community forward,” she said.
In an open house on June 4, Dougherty said he is “fiscally conservative” and has left each town where he’s worked in better economic shape than when he found it. He said he has learned from the experience of being fired in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, and Hebron, Ohio, where he said a lack of communication contributed to his conflicts with the city councils, and does not plan to repeat his mistakes in Cortez. He blamed his latest contract nonrenewal, in Kingman, on a new city council that “wanted to go in a completely different direction” from him. At the open house, he said his first priority as the Cortez city manager would be to make sure the town has enough water rights to make it through potential years of drought.
In hiring Dougherty, the council turned down four other finalists who were considered for the position: Public Works Director Phil Johnson, Mark Campbell of Kremmling, Colorado, and New Mexico residents Timothy Dodge and Martin Moore.
Other actionAlso during Tuesday’s meeting, the council:
Approved the site plan for the new Bridge Emergency Shelter on 735 N. Park St.Approved a conditional use permit for an accessory dwelling unit on 305 N. Washington St.Approved the first reading of an ordinance that would rezone the building at 2310 E. Empire St., home of Stormy’s ATC Gymnastics and Mountain Range Fitness, for use as a neighborhood business.Awarded a $238,042 bid to D&L Construction for the 2018 concrete cost-share program in a 6-1 vote, with Ty Keel voting “no.”Approved the first reading of an ordinance that would terminate the city’s property agreements with Montezuma County for joint ownership of the old Montezuma County Justice Building, paving the way for the county to sell the building to Children’s Kiva Montessori School.Appointed Lance McDaniel to the Planning and Zoning Commission.