MURA grants six key city workers extra vacation time

The Medford Urban Renewal Agency board expressed some reservations Thursday before it granted six top-level city workers additional vacation time for taking on extra administrative duties with the Medford Urban Renewal Agency.

City Councilman Chris Corcoran said he was uncomfortable with incurring more expenses if city employees decide to cash out their hours rather than take them as vacation time. The six employees each were given an additional 40 hours of vacation.

"I'd rather they take time off to rejuvenate their soul to work at a higher level of efficiency," said Corcoran, who like the other City Council members also serves as a MURA board member.

If all six employees — including the city manager, city recorder, deputy city manager and assistant to the city manager — took cash instead of vacation time, it would add up to less than $10,000, according to the city's Human Resources Department.

"This is a pittance in regards to administration," Councilman Al Densmore said.

If the city hired additional staff members to take on these responsibilities, it would cost considerably more, he said.

The City Council in 2010 took over the urban renewal agency, which previously had its own staff members performing administrative duties at a cost of about $200,000 annually.

The council directed senior staff members to oversee the administration of MURA in an effort to save money. But the salaried staff members agreed to take on additional work at no cost.

Councilman Bob Strosser said the council values the time the employees have contributed over the past couple of years.

However, he worried that cashing out the vacations would add to the city's money pressures.

In addition, Strosser said, city employees already have a lot of work on their plates, so he worried about the impact of extra vacation time on other staff members.

City Manager Eric Swanson said city staff began assuming responsibilities for administering MURA in April 2010.

After expressing some reservation, all nine members of the MURA board voted to approve the additional 40-hour vacation time.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or email

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