Raises pending for SLO council, manager and attorney

April 11, 2014

slo city hallBy JOSH FRIEDMAN

Each member of the San Luis Obispo City Council, as well as the city manager and city attorney could receive pay raises in the coming weeks.

This week the council is holding closed session meetings in which they are considering bumps in pay for both City Manager Katie Lichtig and City Attorney Christine Dietrick. Next week, the council will choose whether to grant themselves raises of up to $6,000 a year.

Lichtig is currently in her fifth year as city manager. She has never received a raise in San Luis Obispo, and she did take a cut in benefits after asking her staff to reduce its pay. Still, Lichtig makes more than $300,000 annually in total compensation.

Dietrick makes nearly $250,000 in total compensation. She received raises each of the last two years, even though the city lost a costly lawsuit and its legal liability insurance expenses spiked.

If the council chooses to increase the pay of either Lichtig or Dietrick, it must do so in open session.

At the upcoming April 15 council meeting, city staff will recommend that council member salaries increase from $1,000 a month to $1,200 a month and that the mayor’s salary increase from $1,200 a month to $1,500. The recommendation comes from a council compensation committee consisting of a former councilman, a personnel board representative and three members of the public.

Under the proposal, the annual base salaries of council members would increase from $12,000 to $14,400. The mayor’s annual salary would increase from $14,400 to $18,000.

The compensation committee is also suggesting that the council grant itself the option to opt out of taking health benefits and instead receive additional pay. The proposal would allow council members to receive $200 a month, or $2,400 annually, if they choose to forgo their medical, dental and vision coverage.

Including the health benefit opt out pay, total council member compensation would increase $4,800, and the mayor’s total pay would increase $6,000 under the current proposal.

Of the current council members, only Councilwoman Kathy Smith and Councilman John Ashbaugh received more than $1,000 worth of health benefits last year. Smith’s 2013 health plan cost $5,772 and Ashbaugh’s cost $15,204.

Ashbuagh was the highest compensated council member in San Luis Obispo County last year. Including regional board pay, he received nearly $30,000 in total compensation

In January, Ashbaugh told CalCoastNews that he would oppose an increase in council pay if the compensation committee recommended one. He previously took a pay cut proportional to the one city staff accepted.

Last year, Mayor Jan Marx received $17,933.90 in total compensation from the city of San Luis Obispo, according to figures compiled by the human resources department. Smith received $20,607.64 in total pay, and Councilman Dan Carpenter received $11,410.96. Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson, who joined the council in July, received $6,939.97.

In Feb. 2013, Andrew Carter left the council to become city administrator of Guadalupe. In his final three full years on the council, Carter averaged about $30,000 a year in total compensation.

When polled by the city on whether or not he found council pay to be appropriate, he suggested that council members receive about $40,000 a year in base salaries. Carter recommended that the city pay its mayor $50,000 to $60,000 a year in base salary.

Carter wrote on a questionnaire that he spent at least 40 hours a week on council business and, at times, 60 hours or more a week. Other past council members and mayors who filled out the questionnaire stated on average that they would spend 20 to 30 hours a week conducting council business.

In addition to proposing the boost in council pay, the compensation committee also recommended increases for planning commissioners and members of the Architectural Review Commission. The compensation committee suggested raising pay for planning and architectural review commissioners from $50 a meeting to $60 a meeting.


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YOU got to be friggin kidding me , they think they deserve a raise , after all the BS the firefighters and police officers are going thru with cuts , what do they think that they have done in the last 10 years that warrants a raise , throw all the present council , , city manager and da , get them all oput , its time to take back the city

What a bunch of worthless individuals, you would think this is the city of BELL all over again I think the public should have the hammer here

The local tax payers may want to ask more questions as to where their hard earned local tax dollars actually go. Clearly, not much of their tax dollars were used to improve the “quality of life” her in SLO Town since the passage of Measure ‘Y’ in 2006 which brought in an additional $ 45 million plus in local tax revenues.

What did we ever do before the enactment of Measure ‘Y’ anyway, when the streets were properly maintained, the street trees were trimmed and our creeks were cleared of debris as a part of the city’s normal, routine maintenance programs.

Clearly future senior staff and council pay raises must now be considered as a “CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT” project hence forth, as there is no other existing “Expense Category” within the city budget that better describes this type of self imposed expenditures………….

The city council said Measure Y was going to help the “Quality of Life” for SLO, they just left off the part where it was just theirs, part time city manager Lichtig and “Loose Every Case” Dietrick “Quality of Life” it was supposed to help. Let’s hope the voters are smarter this November, unless that is the government they want.

Sure wish we had a band of merry folks to get in there and empty out the zoo, eliminate all pensions – you want a pension, invest in a 401K and be subjected to the very free market you hinder, just like everyone else (if they’re lucky).

Alas, no one will ever make the really hard decision. Better to let the whole house burn than to smash away the room that’s on fire.


Dear City Council, City Attorney and City Manager,


Based on performance end efficiently and effectively spending our money…


A compensation increase for elected council members should NEVER be allowed while still in office. It should only apply to the next term.

In other words…”City Council shouldn’t be able to vote themselves a raise during their current term”!

Better yet… let the voters (those who pay for the raise) decide by putting it on the upcoming ballot for the 1/2 cent sales tax!

Just who do these people think they are?

It’s no wonder why John Mason got to keep his job…!

I swear …. they need a carnival barker like this one at the entrance to city hall


Check out this recent headline and story….

Congressman Cussed Out After Pay Raise Request


(Jim Moran,) the Democrat from Virginia said that, “I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid. I understand that it’s widely felt that they under-perform, but the fact is that this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world.”

The old, “if this was the private sector, we’d be getting a lot more” lame-ass excuse.

To those politicians and gub’mint employees who use that excuse, I say this: You know what? If you can earn more in the private sector, then go do it. But we all know that’s a lie, you cannot survive in the private sector so shut up already, you’re not worth a three dollar bill!!

Wow… /rant.

Oh by the way, don’t forget to vote for the 1/2 cent tax increase now that we are comfortable

with knowing where it will be going.

Do they really think that we are that stupid to let them get away with this. I guess we will see in the near future. Be Happy in SLO.

And doesn’t it just go without saying…..they deserve it!

Their performance says it all.

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