Katie Lichtig resigning as SLO city manager

August 7, 2017

Following more than 7.5 years at the helm of San Luis Obispo’s city government, Katie Lichtig is departing the Central Coast for an executive role in Santa Monica.

The city of SLO announced in a press release that Lichtig has been hired as chief operating officer/assistant city manager of Santa Monica. In 1992, Lichtig began her municipal career in Santa Monica, a city that now has a budget of nearly $775 million and 2,300 full-time staffers.

It is unclear why exactly Lichtig is choosing to leave San Luis Obispo and return to Santa Monica. Lichtig’s last working day in San Luis Obispo will be Sept. 28

“I have cherished my time serving the San Luis Obispo community. Together we have solved the problems of today, envisioned a bright future and created life-long friendships,” Lichtig said in a statement.

Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole, who selected Lichtig from a nationwide field of candidates, released a statement commending her.

“I sought out Katie because I knew about her achievements and skills in our profession,” Cole said. “After a rigorous process with stiff competition Katie rose to the top.”

Lichtig’s tenure in San Luis Obispo, however, has included several controversies ranging from the amount of money she makes to her appearance in a raunchy video.

Since her hire, numerous residents have complained about Lichtig’s pay, which regularly exceeded $300,000 a year. In 2016, Lichtig received a base salary of more than $230,000 and nearly $338,000 in total pay, according to Transparent California.

San Luis Obispo’s staffing and pension costs also rose considerably during Lichtig’s tenure as city manager, culminating with the city facing multi-million dollar budget shortfalls following a decision by CalPERS, the state retirement system, to lower investment its forecast.

Also recently, Lichtig was fined over her participation in a video that allegedly sexually objectified firefighters. The video was intended as a spoof to promote the SLO Chamber of Commerce, yet it resulted in Lichtig receiving a $2,659 fine and SLO Fire Chief Garret Olson getting fined $5,442.

Lichtig will start work in Santa Monica shortly after leaving San Luis Obispo in late September.

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The responses on this board regarding Katie Lichtig’s departure reflect the mood of many of the residents of this city. A city manager paid $338K per year, plus annual cash bonuses, should be expected to live where she works. That makes them a “stakeholder” in the community, rather than a “hired hand.”

Residents of this city notice little things like that.

They also notice when things happen on a city manager’s watch like:

Rising PERS pension costs and unfunded liabilities. (Over $126m)

Continuing salary bonuses to management despite projected budget shortfalls in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Employees leaving their well paid positions en mass. Over a third of the city employees, roughly 96, have left since Katie arrived at city hall. I know some of them and I know why they left and it wasn’t salary compensation; it was because of Katie’s style of management.

Cronyism in offering jobs to family members of other city officials (Christine Dietrick’s brother in law)

Poor decision making that have led to avoidable expenditures of city funds. Remember that $50k to investigate the sexist firefighter video?

I could go on, but why bother, we are just glad Katie is leaving town.

As for the police chief, I did a similar job in another town, no one expects every employee to love the boss. But when 99% of the employees HATE the boss, the problem isn’t the employees. Captain Keith Storton would like to have remained in police work, but instead chose early retirement to get away from the chief. Captain Staley will no doubt soon follow as will many others who have to interact with the chief daily. (Incidentally, generally when a new city manager is hired the police chief departs in about 18 months, so hang in their police officers, relief is in sight)

So Mtasseff, you enjoy Katie’s going away party filled with tears and hugs amongst the comfortable shoe crowd. The rest of us will continue to work at our jobs so that we can pay your tab…

Just for you information George the city has a very capable assistant city manager. Just for future reference, his name is Derek Johnson.

So is this the guy that every morning I see riding his bike through town to about 9 am, then from about 11 – 1 pm everyday during normal work hours. How can you assert he is very capable when he is hardly at his desk?

Is this the same guy who was part of that abusive labor issue in santa Barbara that resulted in millions of dollars being paid out and millions of dollars in litigation cost prior to a whole team of upper managers being pushed out?

“” How can you assert he is very capable when he is hardly at his desk?””

I don’t know the guy and am not aware of his bike riding habits….but if he’s never at his desk this is a good thing!

If I were city manager, I’d roll the budget back I’d make 10% cuts across the board, including pensions and my own salary and then put everyone on autopilot: “Do what you always do when X happens.”

When a water main leaks, the city manager doesn’t fix it themselves. Ditto for when a sidewalk needs torn up and put back.

Most legitimate functions of city government can be done without an extremely high paid “manager.”

Why then do we have city managers? It’s for the UN-legitimate functions of city government silly! Pay raises, plush pensions, special treatment and favors, backroom deals, and the like.

If this guy on his bike can just stay there and let people do their jobs….we do not need a city manager.

Well, well, well. If Mtasseff and others on the public take (oops – salary) would work as hard for their employees ( the tax-paying citizens) as you seem to do in responding to this article many times and defending sweet Katie; then maybe things would be different.

But by adding up your collective ‘thumbs up’ vs ‘thumbs down’ – it seems to indicate that the public is very skeptical that this will ever be the case. Public trust in government, at all levels, is at an all-time low (and going lower). The real sad part about this is that the vast % of this mistrust has been earned by actions or in-actions of the very politicians or highly paid public officials.

Just going to go out on a limb and say rescinding compensation is – impossible.

Isn’t it amusing- well I find it so – that SLO is the career stepping stone to serve in The People’s Republic of Santa Monica?

How do I apply to be the City Manager?

I’ll take a 60% pay cut and actually work and live in SLO.

Get a master’s degree.

She did great work for her government brethren in raising salaries and pensions. Sucks for the rest of us.

Goodbye katie licked it!!!