Oceano hires Ogren as new general manager
May 15, 2014
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.