County manager’s contract renewed

By Jack King: CNJ Staff Writer

Curry County Manager Geneva Cooper’s contract will be automatically renewed today for one year.

A May 1, 2001, contract, signed by Cooper and county commissioners, ran until today; it has an option to automatically renew for a one-year term unless either Cooper or the commission delivered a notice of non-renewal on or before March 30.

Cooper’s office said Tuesday the commission has sent her no such letter.

Cooper earned $62,897.50 in 2003, county records show. She is scheduled to receive $64,272 in fiscal year 2003-04.
The contract signed in 2001 called for an annual salary of $60,000.

Under the contract, Cooper is entitled to a minimum 3-percent-per-year salary increase. In 2003, along with other county employees, she was given a 3 percent increase in January and a 4 percent increase in June, which took effect July 1.

Cooper said she does not expect a salary increase in fiscal year 2004-2005 because the preliminary budget does not allow other county employees to receive a raise.

“I did not budget a raise for myself. I don’t take a raise if the county employees don’t get a raise,” she said.
Cooper’s contract also provides for the use of a county vehicle and standard employee benefits.

In comparison to the way Cooper’s contract is renewed, Clovis Schools Superintendent Neil Nuttall is evaluated each year by the school board, with a new contract negotiated every three years, said Lonnie Leslie, assistant superintendent for operations.

City Manager Raymond Mondragon is an independent contractor, who must submit a proposal for his services to the city commission every two years. The city’s request for proposals must be publicly advertised, said Assistant City Clerk Claire Burroughes.

At the end of Mondragon’s first contract year, the commission has the option to renew or terminate the contract, which it must do in a public meeting, she said.
Curry County Commissioner Tim Ashley said Cooper’s contract does not call for performance evaluations and she does not receive annual evaluations.

Ashley, who was among commissioners who approved Cooper’s contract in 2001, said Tuesday he was surprised Cooper’s contract was not brought before the commission for discussion prior to today’s automatic renewal.

“Even though they are on automatic renewal, other contracts are brought before the commission, then the purchasing committee will comment on them prior to the renewal,” he said.

Commission Chairwoman Kathrynn Tate said not all automatic-renewal contracts are brought before the commission. Some are handled by county staff, she said.

“The reason (Cooper’s contract) was never brought up is we all assumed she wanted to stay, and we all wanted her to stay,” Tate said.

“She does a good job. Some are concerned she has too much power, but she doesn’t overstep her boundaries,” Tate said.