SLO Council votes for pay increases

May 21, 2014
Christine Dietrick

Christine Dietrick

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.


25 Comments

  1. Paso_citizen says:

    Hello out there !!!! Are we all as stupid as our politicians believe? The answer is
    obviously YES! But when you own the PIN # to the bank account, you can do anything
    with the money that you desire – in this case give yourself a huge salary increase – just
    because it feels good.

    Just wondering – but how many other people got a 25% increase in salary recently?

    How many other working people get to increase their salary to whatever they feel like?

    And just how many citizens of SLO will vote for the extension of sales tax measure so that
    their city officials can continue to increase their salaries whenever they like? My belief is
    that it will be enough the tax measure will pass.

    One of these days, each voter needs to look in a mirror and see what the city officials
    see – STUPID written in capital letters on our foreheads.

    And as long as we, the voters, allow it – they will continue to do as they please, whenever
    they please. Only when we have the guts and fortitude to say NO, will this nonsense
    stop.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  2. Is this salary & associated benefits increase to insure the city attorney remains the city attorney or is this a true merit increase given for outstanding performance above or beyond the expectations of the present city council ? Good question for the council members !

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. falconbh says:

    In simple terms, these Excessive Pay and Benefit Packages, are creating real strain in all local budgets and special districts. When the local sales tax extensions fail all across the county new leadership will be needed.
    A much better plan is to freeze and reduce these salary and early retirement packages to fit the reductions in revenues that are coming. We need to plan ahead.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. grayotter says:

    Seems like prior to 2008 public employees were getting rapid pay raises because we were in fat city and nothing would change. 2008 came along. Many private sector employees either lost their jobs or got serious decreases in salary if they wanted to keep working.
    I may be wrong, but seems like some public employees lost about 5% in pay and screamed all the way to the lower level. Public administrators, of course, had their contracts and didn’t have any losses.
    Why are we negotiating from 2006 economy? Shouldn’t we be negotiating from a 2009 to present economy. instead of pay raises that we can’t afford, we should be ratcheting back to get on track with our current economy…
    Sorry, I’m not an economist and can’t explain this better. Maybe somebody else can help?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  5. wineguyjc says:

    Oh yeah, we believe, people are just beating down Christine’s door to hire her away. There are so many other jurisdictions that have LOW EXPECTATION, thus she would fit right in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  6. Myself says:

    The citizens of SLO county need to wake up and stand up for whats right, just about every city and town in the county has some sort of corruption, the Board of stupid visors is about the worst,the city of Slo just keeps getting dumber,lets hide the spilled paint,lets hire a deranged fireman back,lets pay our corrupt cops wile on leave,the city of MB has a set of fools for Mayor and Council,Atascardo and Paso have had their share of stupid people,whats the deal here are the voters blind to what goes on and keep electing morons to screw us,what has happened here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  7. shelworth says:

    Because they’re doing such a wonderful job?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

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