Should a city manager earn more than a governor?

April 15, 2011

City Manager Katie Lichtig

Local activist Kevin Rice is floating the idea of a possible ballot initiative for San Luis Obispo that would curb the salaries of city officials, especially the city manager.

Rice argued in a radio interview earlier in the week that no San Luis Obispo public employee should be paid more than the governor of California. Jerry Brown currently has a salary of slightly higher than $170,000, in contrast to city manager Katie Lichtig who signed on in 2010 with an  annual starting base salary of $221,500.

The proposed law, subject to voter approval, would mandate city salaries remain lower than that of the governor.

“I’m not about to go out and get 6,000 signatures myself, but I’m willing to help out the effort if there’s interest,” said Rice, who admitted that he is uncertain whether or not such a measure could be applied specifically to Lichtig.

Rice has sent out an email with links to the three-bathroom, four bedroom Topanga Canyon home, that Lichtig owns with her husband Mark Loranger, the CEO of Chrysalis, a high-profile nonprofit helping homeless and low income people. Loranger, according to Rice, is well connected with the Hollywood community, tapping into celebrities including Annette Bening and Entourage’s Adrian Grenier.

People interested in finding out more the proposed initiative can contact Rice directly.



  1. willie says:

    Elected officials who represents the voters has not represented the voters.

    (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  2. The Gimlet Eye says:

    Because that government which governs least, governs best.

    (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
  3. kellygirl says:

    I bet the reason why Lichtig isn’t around town that much is that she can make more money on the road — filling in as a kd laing impersonator.

    (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
    • unlisted says:

      LOL! But, have you seen kd lately?

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
      • hotdog says:

        She was on NPR this morning, sounded great. She’s 50 now and getting into hard rock!

        (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
        • Typoqueen says:

          I don’t know dog, I saw her sing on a show the other day, she looked and sounded like a younger Wayne Newton, she didn’t sing anything hard. But for what she does she sounded good,,, not my thing though.

          (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
  4. JackAS says:

    Why is it that the public wants the very best but only wants to pay as little as possible? Are we creating a working environment that will discourage the “best and the brightest” from wanting to work in the public service? Are we saying that city government only deserves mediocre managers…ones who will not seek competitive compensation?

    (-24) 28 Total Votes - 2 up - 26 down
    • R.Hodin says:

      Kevin Rice is going after the chump change.

      A far more productive pursuit would be to go after Wall Street bankers with pitchforks and torches, and demand back the 3+Trillion in cushy loans the Fed dished out (over and above the Obama bailout plan), just for starters.

      Everybody wails “There oughta be a law against it!” from the comfort of their sofas, before switching the channels on their big screen teevees..

      (4) 16 Total Votes - 10 up - 6 down
      • SLORider says:

        Chump change? Think globally, act locally, my friend.

        “KATIE LICHTIG is authorized…to take time off with pay while ensuring appropriate coverage of her duties”

        $221,500 plus cost-of-living adjustments.

        One month vacation per year.

        All relocation expenses, including up to two house-hunting trips.

        $2,500 per month housing rental to assist her while relocating.

        $125,000 home loan tied to city’s local agency investment fund rate (taxpayer expense)

        Indemnification against any claims, actions, losses…arising from KATIE LICHTIG’S duties…

        “COUNCIL shall not…reduce the salary/compensation/benefits of KATIE LICHTIG”

        Severance: “COUNCIL agrees to pay 9 months compensation/benefits”

        Moved: Settle/Ashbaugh
        Voted 5-0: Settle, Ashbaugh, Romero, Marx, Carter on 12/15/2009
        s/Dave Romero, Mayor

        (24) 24 Total Votes - 24 up - 0 down
        • hotdog says:

          Excellent summary of who, what and when. My suggestion would be for everyone to copy SLORider’s info and e to the council members that approved the contract and ask them for an explanation. Three of the five are still there, Marx, Carter and Ashbaugh.
          It seems like the council was spending our money pretty freely and we should demand answers.

          (17) 17 Total Votes - 17 up - 0 down
        • Mr. Holly says:

          She missed out on a few benefits. Should have talked to Wade McKinney in Atascadero before signing her contract.

          (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
      • Typoqueen says:

        @R.Hodin, what are doing to be more productive? As I’ve said, I don’t usually agree with Kevin but I give him kudos for at least doing something to try and help his community.

        I agree that the issues you raised are valid that need addressing but does that mean that there’s not other issues at community levels that also need to be addressed.

        Kevin is walking the walk and I’ll bet that you’re simply talking the talk.

        (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down
        • R.Hodin says:

          How is complaining about a top manager’s salary going to improve the local economy? If Lichtig is replaced by a less-costly replacement, we will have thrown 9 months’ worth of Lichtig’s salary down the toilet as well as the experience she’s gained in the short time she’s been here.

          It’s a fool’s errand.

          I say, demand a top manager’s performance for a commensurate salary. Show up at council meetings, email the council members for progress reports on her, inquire of them whether they feel they are getting our money’s worth, etc. In short, keep her feet and the council’s feet to the fire.

          (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
      • zaphod says:

        Apparently the city managers “union” has a strategic statewide plan

        (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
      • The Gimlet Eye says:

        So the local parasites should be “exempt” just because they are small time compared to the Wall Street bankers?

        (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      That’s a bunch of nonsense. We can get very good competent people to work in our little communities for less than the governor of our state. There are plenty of very well qualified people that would do an outstanding job for less than what this woman is making. It’s crazy during these difficult times to pay so much for job, especially in such a small community. How on earth can believe that her job requires more work, knowledge and ability than the governor?

      (17) 19 Total Votes - 18 up - 1 down
  5. beachrat says:

    Hey,take a look up the road in Cambria, if you want to see an overpaid, Ms. Rudock is paid approximately the same as Lichtig for managing an entity probably 1/8 of the size of SLO


    (15) 17 Total Votes - 16 up - 1 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      Really, I didn’t know that. I wonder how many of these little towns are over paying these people. That’s reprehensible.

      (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down
  6. rogerfreberg says:

    Well… what was our Mayor thinking? Was this her legacy or just leaving a few skid Marx?

    Oh, in the real world a company with the budgetary challenges of the City of San Luis Obispo, a lot of things would happen. If anyone thinks this hire will address any of this… well… tie will tell won’t it? In the federal government ( military included), no one can make more than the President… and that keeps a nice cap on things. What kind of ‘expertise’ does San Luis Obispo really think they are buying?

    Elections have a way of ironing things out… issues like Diablo Canyon might be important and sexy to some voters, but as I walk around San Luis Obispo and see tons of ‘for sale’ signs, the monster in the closet is getting harder to deny.

    It’s the economy.

    (16) 20 Total Votes - 18 up - 2 down
    • RU4Real says:

      Roger, it also says a lot about the corruption in San Luis Obispo County…it is, after all, the most CORRUPT County in the State!

      (16) 18 Total Votes - 17 up - 1 down
      • The Gimlet Eye says:

        I don’t know about that. Santa Barbara might give you a good run for your money.

        (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
    • hotdog says:

      Roger, you seem to know a lot about our city. What was the council that interviewed and hired Katie? Was it the end of the Romero dynasty or the beginning of the Marx term?

      We now find our city more than broke. We now find our state more than broke. For the almost last ten years both places were led by prominent republicans. If we are broke now it means those people and their legislatures broke us, not the current office holders. What say you?

      (6) 12 Total Votes - 9 up - 3 down

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