SLO council unanimously approves raise for city attorney
May 8, 2013
The San Luis Obispo City Council unanimously approved a 4.5 percent salary increase for City Attorney Christine Dietrick on Tuesday.
Prior to the council approving the pay raise, three members of the public criticized the proposed increase, two of whom are current candidates for the city council vacancy: Kevin Rice and Donald Hedrick.
The other public speaker to criticize the pay raise, attorney Stew Jenkins, delivered a letter to the four members of the council stating that the median salary for lawyers in California is $139,152.
“The compensation received by the city attorney is already appreciably higher than the median salary paid to attorneys throughout the state of California,” Jenkins wrote in the letter. “The position is currently well paid, and arguably overpaid given the wide variety of competent attorneys available to perform the job at $20,000 to $30,000 less than the current salary is set at.”
At her new level of pay, Dietrick stands to make nearly $25,000 more than California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is making $143,571 this year, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Dietrick’s base salary will increase from $160,446 to $168,000 yearly at a time in which line level employee salaries are either frozen or facing cuts. Dietrick previously received a 3.5 percent pay raise in April 2012.
While Dietrick’s pay is increasing, general city employees will receive no salary increases through 2014 and firefighters will receive no salary increases through 2015. Police officers took a 2 percent reduction in pay in January and will take another 2 percent pay cut in July 2014.
Last year, Jenkins successfully sued the city over an ordinance used to frequently ticket the homeless. The city had to pay Jenkins and fellow attorney Saro Rizzo a total of $133,800 to settle the case.
After the city lost the suit and paid the settlement, the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority, which provides legal liability insurance, raised the city’s annual rate by $74,000. CJPIA also notified the council in February that it owes a retroactive payment of more than $3.1 million due to change in how the agency calculates the city’s yearly contribution to the insurance fund.