George Duncan worked for the city of Bloomfield for more than 40 years

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BLOOMFIELD — Former Fire Chief George Duncan will serve as the next Bloomfield city manager.

The City Council voted 3-1 in favor of appointing Duncan today after Donica Sharpe declined the position.

Sharpe declined the position because she would have to suspend her retirement benefits. Sharpe retired from the city of Bloomfield in 2016 and has been drawing benefits from the Public Employees Retirement Association. PERA rules prevent people from withdrawing retirement benefits if they go back to work as public employees in the state of New Mexico.

Duncan is also a retired Bloomfield employee, however he is covered by a different retirement plan, according to City Attorney Ryan Lane.

Duncan will work part time as city manager. The contract is still being finalized and the City Council will likely vote on the final contract during its next council meeting.

Councilor Matt Pennington cast the lone dissenting vote. He voiced concerns that Duncan could favor the fire department over other departments.

“George has done great things for the fire department,” Pennington said. “He’s done great things for the city.”

Pennington also expressed concern that appointing a former department head as city manager could put the other departments in a defensive mindset.

“I think that George could do great things as city manager,” Pennington said. “I’m not saying he won’t. I worry a little about the bias that could occur in that situation.”

Duncan worked for the city of Bloomfield for more than 40 years. He joined the fire department in 1971.

Councilor Curtis Lynch said Duncan started in the parks department and was instrumental to getting funding for major projects such as the river walk trail along the San Juan River and building the multicultural center, which houses the city’s library.

He said he can remember at least three times when Duncan has served as interim city manager.

“He’s built that fire department into one of the strongest rural fire departments in the region and in the state,” said Councilor Ken Hare.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

 

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