Paavo Ogren leaving county for Oceano manager position

May 9, 2014
Paavo Ogren

Paavo Ogren


San Luis Obispo County Director of Public Works Paavo Ogren is slated to exit his county job for the position of Oceano Community Services District manager, according to the district’s website.

Ogren approached district officials requesting the position at a yearly base salary of $196,000 a year. Ogren’s predecessors Lonnie Curtis and Tom Geaslen’s base salaries were set at $126,000 a year. Raffaele Montemurro, who was terminated in 2011, had a base salary of $87,500.

Touting his experience in finance and accounting, Ogren requested the district manager salary and another $65,000 for the district accountant position in order to arrive at the $196,000 base salary.

Nevertheless, under former district manager Raffaele Montemurro, the district did not have an in-house accountant. Then, under Geaslen, a district accountant position was created without board approval for 30 hours a week at $30 an hour, or $46,800 a year.

In addition, government bodies do not generally permit the manager who signs checks to also produce the accounting and the checks because of check and balances protocols.

The district is currently running more than $170,000 over budget, according to the district’s warrants. In order to cover Ogren’s salary, the board could elect to sell excess water or raise utility rates.

In his present position, Ogren oversees 180 county employees. Oceano currently has six employees, three of whom work in the office and three of whom work in the utility yard.

Since 2006, nine people have held the Oceano district manager position.

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An idea: I think we need to form a citizen oversight committee whose countywide function would be to oversee local government management salaries. Governmental bodies would the be asked to submit wage, benefit and severance packages to the oversight committee for their input prior to offering the package to the prospective employee. Candidates to local governmental entities would be asked to agree to pledge to present employee compensation packages to this committee as part of their candidacies, al la Grover Norquist’s “no tax increase pledge” . The committee could survey the lower paying counties, cities and districts for appropriate compensation. The committee could have a limited life of say ten years at which time lower compensation would be in place.

Oh, I see a Desalination plant in the works for Ocean or a pipeline to Cachuma. Have no fear Paavo is here. He will fix all the problems. The Naci-pipeline and Los Osos sewer plant has worked out so well for all of us.