Another SLO City clerk departing

September 22, 2015

SLO City Manager Katie LichtigBy JOSH FRIEDMAN

As with finance directors, city clerks have been prone to departing San Luis Obispo after brief stints with the city under the leadership of City Manager Katie Lichtig.

Shortly following the resignation of finance director Wayne Padilla, San Luis Obispo City Clerk Anthony Mejia has announced he is resigning. Mejia’s last day on the job in San Luis Obispo will be Oct. 9.

When Padilla took over the position of finance director in Jan. 2013, he became the city’s fourth finance director in a period of less than three years. When Mejia took over as city clerk, he became the city’s third full-time city clerk in a period of less than two years.

Both Padilla and Mejia have cited personal reasons as an explanation for their resignation announcements.

Critics have faulted Lichtig, who took over as city manager in 2010, for high turnover among San Luis Obispo employees.

Since 2001, the city’s overall turnover rate has averaged about 8.5 percent, according a city staff report released earlier this year.

In 2012, the turnover rate was 10 percent. The turnover rate then rose to 19 percent in 2013 and 32 percent in 2014, according to the staff report.

The staff report, which was arguing for pay increases for city workers, stated most employees were leaving San Luis Obispo for higher paying jobs or for locations with lower costs of living.

But, the past two full-time city clerks had little to gain financially from their departures from San Luis Obispo.

In February 2012, former city clerk Elaina Cano left for the same position in Pismo Beach. Her move came with a slight raise in base salary.

Cano’s successor Maeve Grimes lasted less than a year. In July 2013, Grimes left for the same position in Oregon from which she departed to come to San Luis Obispo.

Grimes took a pay cut of nearly $6,000 to return to her former position as the clerk of Clatsop County in Oregon.

When Cano left San Luis Obispo, she was receiving a base salary of $74,906. Grimes was making a base salary of $82,914 in San Luis Obispo.

When the city hired Mejia, it granted him a significantly higher salary than his predecessors. The city hired Mejia at a base salary of $98,000.

Currently, city employees are in the process of receiving raises. Several employees have already been granted raises of more than 10 percent.

In Nov. 2013, CalCoastNews reported that San Luis Obispo had the highest rate of attrition among management staff in the county.

At that time, eight department heads had left since Lightig took over as city manager. In the previous four years, one department head had left the city.

Critics of Lichtig have also said the position of city clerk comes with increased scrutiny. Councilman Dan Carpenter and others have pointed out multiple times the city clerk’s office was withholding information from the city website that could reflect poorly upon the city.

Last year, the council approved a staff request to spend $250,000 on reorganizing and remodeling city hall. Part of the reconfiguration plan was to move Lichtig to an office adjacent to the city clerk’s office.

Lichtig told CalCoastNews the changes would improve customer service and enhance city operations by locating supervisors next to the programs they lead.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

check with the members of the morro bay city council, pretty sure there are more unqualified members of their families that would take the job and agree to be directed by lichtik.

“Both Padilla and Mejia have cited personal reasons…”. The City Administration/City Clerk/Human Resources/Finance just went through a whole reorganization, cost a but load of bucks, new hires, etc. Then, we go through this! This is costing the ratepayers lots of money for reorganizing, recruiting, retaining the wrong leader. Ask the employees in Planning how happy they are that Johnson is out and upstairs and Codron is their boss now. We can all thank Jan Marx (Lickits personal friend) and this council for all of this and this is not the end of the problems. You have Monica Irons (Human Resources Manager) and landlord of Ms. Lictig. You have Drek Johnson ex-Planning Director who has created major issues in his department and who now will be Ms. Lickit’s assistanct in Administration. yOu still have no recruiting happening for a Police Chief, this is being rotated by the Police Captains, Jus ask Kathy Smith to be honest as to why she did not want to keep her sit on this City Council. There are several people who do not want to be involved in this type of government. Very sad for SLO!

“We trained hard—but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we were reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing, and what a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while actually producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.”

― Petronius Arbiter 50 A.D.

Not much has changed 2000 years.

Flytrap is right, something is seriously off kilter here. No one goes into a job with the intentions on leaving so soon, (unless originally planned.) IT appears there are serious issues and these Directors want to be out of the lime light when the Sheets finally hit the fan. ?? What does Ms Katie have over these people that they don’t run to the press to tell all? I bet she is somehow manipulating them into being responsible in some capacity,

They are all expendable all the way from the top (Marx) to the bottom. Let them leave if they think the grass is greener on the other side of fence. It’s been going on for years and we have all survived. Hire the new people at a lower cost. Oh! You say you can’t do that? Try it and see how many applications that would get. In the real world people are still looking for jobs and many would appreciate not only the pay scale but all of the perks that come with it.

You say it like the replacement has not already been chosen. Sure they may waste some taxpayer money on the allusion of contracting with a headhunter to find the next person but certainly Lichtig has a friend or family member in need of a job, qualifications are not needed as has been proven before. As for hiring at a lower salary, why they got their new tax money is not a problem for them.