City manager Murphy talks about priorities of new job

Martin Murphy

A newly appointed manager for Oneonta said Friday that he looks forward to working again for a community at the city level.

Martin D. Murphy, 54, was appointed by the Oneonta Common Council on Thursday as the next city manager at a salary of $110,000. His start date is Oct. 1.

Murphy succeeds Michael H. Long, who served as city manager from Oct. 1, 2012, to May 29, when he retired. The position was established in a revised Oneonta City Charter approved by voters in 2011.

Most recently, Murphy was Cortland County administrator, a position he held from May 2010 until Aug. 28.

Between November 2007 and May 2010, Murphy was village manager for the village of Saranac Lake, according to his resume. And between May 1989 and November 2007, he worked for the city of Odgensburg, including as planning and development director and executive director of the Ogdensburg Growth Fund Development Corp. between 1993 and 2007.

Murphy said he had a strong desire to be employed again in city-level public service. Murphy said he has found that level to be most-satisfying because experiences involved working more-closely with people and on projects, with opportunities to see results.

Murphy said he saw an advertisement for the Oneonta city manager position through the International City/County Management Association of Washington, D.C. He is an ICMA credentialed manager.

The ad called for a city manager who “needs to be a leader and implementer, with strong organizational skills, a good communicator, a team builder with a ‘get things done’ approach to change and problem-solving.”

The city manager will be the chief budget officer, a member of the collective bargaining team and will work with community groups, according to the ad, which also said housing has been identified as a top community priority.

Oneonta is home to Hartwick College and the State University College at Oneonta. The city received 36 applications to consider.  

Murphy said another factor in accepting Oneonta’s offer was that the city has a seasoned staff, particularly Common Council members, who “are interested in and committed to teamwork to move the city forward.”

Oneonta is an attractive community with strengths that will be an excellent platform for dealing with challenges faced by all New York municipalities, Murphy said Thursday.

For Oneonta, some of those challenges include having a historic downtown with vacant or under-utilized upper floors and a retail environment tested by consumers’ access to “big-box” discount stores, Murphy said.

The availability of safe and affordable housing is another general issue, he said, and in Oneonta, factors include student housing and opportunities to redevelop housing stock.

Murphy said Friday that priorities include moving as soon as possible to Oneonta and meeting with city department heads, council members and other stakeholders to understand council goals and devise implementation strategies.

Murphy said he already has spoken with Meg Hungerford, city director of finance, about the 2015 budget. That communication will continue, he said, to facilitate his understanding of the process and to become involved as soon as possible.

Murphy and his wife, Penny, are looking to buy a home but initially expect to rent, he said, as they are eager to move from Homer to Oneonta.

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