By Matt Ward and Selwyn Harris
A Medford, Ore. newspaper is reporting that Pahrump Town Manager Bill Kohbarger is a finalist in that community for the job of city manager.
A Tuesday news item posted on the Mail Tribune’s website reports that Kohbarger was named a finalist alongside three others vying for the $152,000-a-year job.
Kohbarger told a Pahrump Valley Times reporter for a story that appears tomorrow that he was going to miss the regular Tuesday night town board meeting because he was on vacation. The Mail Tribune reports that Kohbarger was scheduled to join his competitors for a meet-and-greet in Medford Tuesday night.
A call to Kohbarger for comment was not immediately returned.
Board member Dr. Tom Waters commented on the revelation following Tuesday’s town board meeting.
“I read the article and it said he was in the running. My thoughts are the way this town has treated Mr. Kohbarger, If he gets a job like that and doesn’t take it I would consider him foolish. If the job offer comes through, I would wish him well and if it doesn’t come through, I’m glad he’s still here,” he said.
The town manager had just won a new three-year contract in March. That was after spending at least a year essentially on probation — he was awarded a one-year contract in 2011 because new board members desired to give the town manager a chance to work through issues faced by a previous board. Kohbarger had already served three years previous to his last contract.
Last month, by a 4-1 margin, the board gave Kohbarger a vote of confidence by offering him a three-year contract effective July 1.
Waters noted that Kohbarger applied for the city manager position in Oregon before he knew he was getting a contract extension.
“That’s something that anybody who is going to take care of their family would be doing. I talked to Carolene and I said, if he hasn’t applied for another job somewhere, then he is foolish and this shows that he’s not foolish,” he said.
Board member Harley Kulkin said he was not aware of Kohbarger’s intentions to apply for a job in Oregon.
“I was told that he was going there on vacation so maybe it got twisted around. I know that his wife is going to school here and his son is involved in things. I would find it peculiar that he would want to uproot his family,” he said.
Kulkin also suggested that being a businessman himself, he completely understands Kohbarger’s decision to move on.
“I’ve hired people through the years and sometimes they want to move on and better themselves. I can never fault a person for wanting to move forward,” he said.
When Pahrump Community Economic Development Manager Al Balloqui tendered his resignation in February, it was Kohbarger who volunteered to assume Balloqui’s duties until a replacement could be found.
It appears as of late, the town board and staff are looking at a changing landscape.
Another Town Board Member Carolene Endersby abruptly resigned her position last month.
Kulkin went on to say that if Kohbarger is hired by the City of Medford, the move could possibly disrupt business that the town is presently working on.
“It puts the town at a disadvantage after losing Al Balloqui. It’s pretty rough trying to get somebody to pick up on all that information that was inside those two heads,” he said.
Town Board Chair Vicky Parker said while on vacation, Kohbarger is free to do whatever he chooses on his own time, even if it includes interviewing for another job.
“He’s on vacation. Kids are out of school this week,” she said.
Board member Mike Darby could not be reached for comment.
Medford is a city in southern Oregon of about 75,000 people, though it boasts a metropolitan area of about 200,000, according to the city’s Wikipedia entry. That city’s former manager resigned in August 2011.
Kohbarger is facing competition from Anthony O’Rourke, city manager of South Lake Tahoe, Calif.; Eric Swanson, city manager of Roseburg, Ore.; and Tonya Wallace, strategic planning/budget manager for Boise, Idaho, according to the Mail Tribune.
According to the article, Kohbarger called himself the “head communicator” for Pahrump. He described the job of city manager as one in which you are the chief facilitator to department heads and the public.
“You never want to blindside people,” Kohbarger told the newspaper. “Sometimes you fail, but you try.”
Kohbarger told the newspaper that his management style is to let department heads run their respective organizations.
“The city manager should be in the loop on everything, but not running the departments,” he said.
The newspaper also reports that Kohbarger made mention of a 426-acre Pahrump Amusement & Recreation Complex that he is actively working on in an attempt to attract some of the tourists who head to Las Vegas.
The Mail Tribune said the Tuesday meet-and-greet would be followed by two days of interviews for the candidates, who will meet with city council members, a community group and department heads, all of whom will conduct interviews behind closed doors to assess the candidates.
Kohbarger arrived in Pahrump in 2008. He was unavailable for comment.
News of his serious contention for the Medford job came too late to make it into Wednesday’s PVT. Look for more coverage of this developing story in Friday’s paper.
The Mail Tribune report can be found at http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120410/NEWS/204100319.