Oceano hires Ogren as new general manager

May 15, 2014
Paavo Ogren

Paavo Ogren

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

In an attempt to boost its agency’s credibility, the Oceano Community Services District board opted to hire San Luis Obispo County Public Works Director Paavo Ogren as the new district general manager and award him a base pay of nearly $200,000 a year.

The CSD board of directors voted 4-1 Wednesday night, with Director Jennifer Blackburn dissenting, to hire Ogren at a base salary of $196,000 a year. Ogren will receive pay for the general manager’s position, as well as for an unfilled and not board-approved accounting position.

Just three years ago, the general manager had a base salary of $87,500, and the accounting position did not exist. The past two Oceano managers received salaries of $126,000 a year.

The district is currently $170,000 over budget.

Blackburn said the board should renegotiate a contract with Ogren that the district could afford.

“Mr. Ogren mentioned he had a heart for the community,” Blackburn said. “I think he may be open to negotiation.”

But, Ogren said he would not negotiate his base salary.

“That would end up putting me in a negative situation from where I am now,” Ogren said.

Ogren instead recommended that the board amend his contract to allow him to receive raises only if he meets or exceeds expectations. The contract, as proposed, would grant him 2.5 percent raises after each of his first two years for merely satisfactory performance.

Twelve members of the public spoke prior to the board hiring Ogren. Nine opposed the hire, while three supported it. Multiple speakers questioned Ogren’s motivation for leaving the county.

Ogren oversees 180 employees in his current position, whereas Oceano has a total of six district workers.

Ogren said the move is about public service.

“There’s a little bit of a heart that goes to working directly with the communities,” he said.

Board President Matt Guerrero said Ogren’s motivations for leaving the county are irrelevant.

“This hire would bring a lot of credibility,” Guerrero said.

Ogren is expected to begin work in Oceano sometime in July.


21 Comments

  1. falconbh says:

    Just remember today it is the Oceano residents that have been wronged over the last five or more years.

    Tomorrow, it just might be your community that is left without even the most basic legal protections as elected officals and city managers manipulate the system for personal gain.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  2. ToHellinaHandBasket says:

    Of course Paavo, “itneverends” Ogren…

    I’ve archived this statement. Let’s revisit the claim in four years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  3. Niles Q says:

    Looks like Paavo hit the Lottery Jackpot.

    $196,000 a year? With that kind of money he should get Obamacare and save the district his medical benefits.

    Makes me wonder what Morro Bay will end up paying for a new city manager?

    Here at least they have to oversee the fire and police, parks, harbor, and planning and building.

    What does Oceano CSD oversee? Water, street lighting? Six employees? Really?

    This just reaffirms my belief that gov employees are the new priviledged class. They take us to the cleaners while we all struggle to keep a roof over our heads and food in the fridge. Disgraceful.

    So now the County has to look for a new PW director? Paavo was never qualified for that job in the first place.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

    • doggin says:

      Hold on there Niles. Do not put the over paid sticker on all government employees. Not to many years ago the OCSD was looking to hire a permanent maintenance worker. Requirements per the job flyer read any candidate was to be certified for water distribution (DII), water treatment (TII), a qualified EMT, operate backhoes and other heavy equipment and a other various skills and reside within a 30 minute response time. The pay was under $2500 a month. Seriously? Look at the typical maint workers wage compared to a desk jockey politician manager, its management who repeatedly gives themselves a raise and is bleeding everyone dry and Paavo is a yet another example. Public servant in the interest of you and I? no, individual placed by cronies to bankrupt it so the county can take over and control it.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  4. falconbh says:

    What is the process to begin dissolving the Oceano Community Services District ? I just do not see another option at this time.

    Thank You

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 7

    • Mitch C says:

      Years ago the Los Osos CSD went upside-down and there was a petition to disolve the District. As a manager of another local government agency, I fought this dissolution before LAFCO because the citizens of the rest of San Luis Obsipo county would assume the debts caused by Los Osos without gaining any benefit. Los Osos was forced to resolve its own problems and the citizens of that community will continue to pay for the mis-steps of their governing board for many, many years to come. If Oceano’s Board of Directors actions create an economic burden for its citizens then those residents should have to sholder the results and not rely upon those of us living in other areas of the county to bail them out. The die is cast and whatever the results, good or bad, falls upon those who live in Oceano.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 2

      • falconbh says:

        I respect and value your ethical perspective on this issue. It is our problem.

        What really upsets me is not just the Directors. During the past five years of missed audits, theft of taxpayers funds, increasing legal costs and the way the 25% rate increase was wasted are all clearly documented.

        Where is the Grand Jury ? District Attorney ? State Legislative Audit Committee ?
        State Attorney General ? State Controller? State Senator or State Assembly ?

        Where is the investigation ? The rule of law ? Protections for ratepayers ?

        The system seems to have broken down when it comes to the Oceano Community Services District and failed the resident ratepayers.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

      • Julie says:

        Mitch’s memory is correct on the effort to dissolve Los Osos CSD, but while there are many similarities, the big difference between the two districts on this point. At the time Los Osos was facing dissolution it had $40M in creditors lined up and no real assets to make a takeover desirable– which would have had a negative effect countywide. Los Osos’ basin is in documented decline and takeover of a water system in disrepair and the community still needing a sewer was a/is losing proposition.

        Contrarily, Oceano CSD, while in deep financial trouble and infrastructure in decline, still has some re$erves and a very hefty water allocation. That water would be very desirable for County takeover to then parse out among the neighboring communities. This subject came up in the Paavo interview last night. He assured the OCSD that was not his motivation, but temporary water sales were not out of the realm of possibility. (“Temporary” is a relative term, Geaslen tried to sell Nipomo 500 acre feet of Oceano water last year, he suggested a temporary (20 year with automatic renewals) contract.) **It’s also interesting to note that both Nipomo CSD Director Bob Blair and GM Michael Lebrurn were in attendance last night and supportive of the Paavo hire.

        Dissolution is a community decision, it’s a tall order in which to meet the LAFCO test, but the real question is, is anyone really that up in arms in Oceano? Does the public genuinely care/ Do they even know what’s happening? There are language barriers that aren’t being crossed. OCSD can’t even get qualified candidates to run for office.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

    • kayaknut says:

      If you live in the district you can bend over and …… open your wallet because you have to know rate increases are coming, oh yeah and vote out all board members as soon as possible.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

    • MaryMalone says:

      Now that Ogren has been hired, I very much doubt the OCSD will be dissolved.

      Indeed, that may be one of the reasons the OCSD BOD rolled over on Ogren’s contract demands.

      Nothing speaks to the failures of a CSD’s BOD like a s uhh successful move to disband the CSD.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  5. mazin says:

    Couldn’t agree more with falconbh. Remember the salary is just the base pay. Benefit package probably hikes up the cost 25%. A quarter of a million dollars a year for one employee in a district with seven total employees!!!
    What the County and special districts need are slates of candidates committed to cutting management salaries 25% across the board. Please remember that these cost are born by the backs of local homeowner’s, local businesses … many who are financially struggling.
    Recall the four yes votes for being poor fiduciaries of public funds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 4

    • aft50s says:

      If the District pays the employee’s share of the PERS contribution, then the benefit package cost is closer to 37%.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 3

  6. falconbh says:

    I encourage others to run for office and lets remove Incumbents from office who Support these ” Excessive Compensation Packages” and “Increase Taxes and Rates”.

    Not just in Oceano, but all across the SLO County.

    Together we can rebalance the budgets and reduce taxes and waste.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 37 Thumb down 4

  7. Julie says:

    Oceano is a lot more than $170,000 in deficit.
    Remember this?
    https://calcoastnews.com/2013/11/oceano-csd-considering-30-year-loan/

    Water fund debt has reached approximately $1M over the last 3 years (under the nose of the Board).

    During last nights meeting Board members agreed that water rates need to be raised (taking none of the blame as to why). Please realize that any rate increase will/should include recovery of these borrowed funds, future infrastructure projects and repairs AND Paavo’s inflated salary/benefit package.

    The audio of last nights meeting is up.
    http://www.slo-span.org/media.php?slo=3#OCSD

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 11

  8. itneverends says:

    Although this hire may seem strange on the surface to some, I believe that the District will be in a much better place in four years than it is now, and will have different options available to it at that time. For now, this was a very smart move.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 21 Thumb down 33

    • MaryMalone says:

      Are you kidding me? Ogren’ s contract was tailor-made for fraud!

      The potential for a GM looting OCSD is much higher before Ogren’ s negotiation-free contract was accepted without a whimper by the BOD.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 5

  9. Pelican1 says:

    How many of the nine speakers in opposition of his hiring, were actually from Oceano?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 9

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