Larry Allen receives contract extension amid Forbes dispute
January 26, 2014
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
Two days after Forbes Magazine published a commentary highlighting the high pay of San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) head Larry Allen, the APCD board approved a contract extension for the district chief.
On Wednesday, the APCD board approved a two-year contract extension for Allen that appears to show no increase in salary. Nevertheless, Allen’s salary and benefits could increase in a few weeks.
Allen’s contract states that he shall receive any cost of living salary adjustments or benefit increases granted to other APCD employees.
At the end of Wednesday’s meeting, the board met in closed session to discuss a cost of living increase for APCD staff. Even though the pending pay increase would raise Allen’s salary as well, Allen negotiated the raise on behalf of the district.
In the Forbes commentary published Monday, columnist Steven Hayward noted that Allen receives close to $250,000 annually. Allen disputed the claim in a written response to Hayward Tuesday.
During Wednesday’s board meeting, Allen stated that the Forbes commentary had absolutely no basis in fact.
“It was a factually incorrect article — very biased,” Allen said. “I’m not sure what the motivation was behind it.”
Allen’s contract calls for a yearly salary of $153,096 and $82,916 in benefits for total compensation of $236,012, according to a district staff report.
Allen also receives a $5,400 annual vehicle allowance paid in cash. When asked Friday, district finance manager Kevin Kaizuka did not state whether the vehicle allowance is included in Allen’s projected $82,916 benefit total.
In previous district budgets, Allen’s benefits were listed according to type, such as retirement contributions, paid leave, medical, dental and vision coverage and disability and life insurance. Nevertheless, the breakdown was omitted from the 2013-2014 budget.
Allen’s paid leave includes a total of 51 days annually, or more than 10 working weeks off. His contract grants him 20 vacation days, 12 holidays, one day of personal leave, 12 days of sick leave and six days of administrative leave, all with pay.
Allen can cash out 80 hours of unused vacation time annually. He can also accrue unused vacation and administrative leave and half of his unused sick leave up to 1,440 hours.
As of Dec. 20, 2013, Allen had accrued 279 hours of vacation leave, 919 hours of sick leave and 42 hours of administrative leave, according to Kaizuka.
Allen makes approximately $75 per hour, which means he has accrued nearly $60,000 in unused leave pay. Accrued pay is calculated based upon Allen’s salary at the conclusion of his employment with the district. If Allen’s salary increases, his accrued pay will, too.
When the district hired Allen as its air pollution control officer in 2002, he received an annual salary of $85,320. His salary has nearly doubled since.
The APCD board approved Allen’s contract by a 9-2 vote Wednesday, with San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Debbie Arnold and Pismo Beach Councilman Ed Waage voting against the contract extension.
Arnold said she disagreed with fee and salary increases that Allen had recommended during times of economic distress.
Waage said he opposed a clause of the contract that would extend Allen’s employment with the district beyond two years without board approval. The clause allows Allen to keep the same terms of employment beyond the life of the contract until the board either approves a new agreement or gives 14 days of notice prior to termination.
“It basically becomes an evergreen contract and never expires,” Waage said.
District counsel Ray Biering said the provision is merely in place to reflect existing law and is no different than the terms agreed to by other public employees.
“It is not an evergreen provision,” Biering said. “Evergreen provisions are no longer permitted in public contracts.”