SLO Council votes for pay increases
May 21, 2014
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
The San Luis Obispo City Council awarded itself a pay raise Tuesday evening, and a couple hours later, also gave its top attorney a bump in pay.
The council twice voted 3-2, with council members Dan Carpenter and Kathy Smith dissenting to award the raises. Council members can now earn $4,800 more annually in total compensation, and the mayor’s pay can increase by $6,000 a year. Under the new pay structure, their base salaries will rise to $12,000 and $14,400 respectively.
City Attorney Christine Dietrick will receive a base salary increase from $168,000 to $175,006. The raise is her third in three years.
In January, Councilman John Ashbaugh told CalCoastNews he would oppose an increase in council pay if a city council compensation committee recommended one. The compensation committee indeed recommended one, but on Tuesday, Ashbaugh motioned to approve the recommendation and voted in favor of the bump in pay.
“I’m willing to support it as is,” Ashbaugh said.
Ashbaugh said he would like to see council members receive salaries equivalent to a percentage of the pay for the city’s lowest paid full time employee. That position has a salary of a little more than $40,000 a year, and council members could receive 50 or 80 percent of that total, Ashbaugh said.
Smith said council members deserve more pay but voted against the increase, saying people should not choose to serve on council for the money.
Two hours later, Carpenter, along with Smith, argued against the raise for Dietrick, saying it would lead to other employees demanding more pay from the city in upcoming negotiations.
“I guarantee you the union representatives are watching and listening very carefully tonight and they will use that against us in our negotiations,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter also said that the raise for Dietrick is an example of the council’s continual failure to contain the rising costs of city employee pay.
“This is Measure Y money,” Carpenter said.
But, as with council pay, the council majority of Ashbaugh, Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson and Mayor Jan Marx supported the raise for Dietrick.
Christianson said Dietrick is making considerably less than other city attorneys in California.
Marx said the council must pay Dietrick more or risk losing her to another city.
“This is a very competitive market for city attorneys,” Marx said. “She’s doing an excellent job, and she deserves a raise.”
City Manager Katie Lichtig, the city’s other council-appointed employee, had the opportunity to request a raise but did not do so. Lichtig receives a base salary of $221,520 a year and makes $313,031 in total compensation.