Arroyo Grande plays musical chairs with administrators

September 4, 2020

Whitney McDonald


The Arroyo Grande City Council has selected its community development director to be its new top executive. Council members are expected to formally approve the new city manager appointment on Tuesday.

Whitney McDonald has served as Arroyo Grande’s  community development director since February. She previously worked in the San Luis Obispo County Counsel’s Office. McDonald is a licensed attorney who specializes in land use and zoning.

The city is offering McDonald a base salary of $189,948 annually and an additional $2,200 to a deferred compensation program.

On April 30, following a dust up with Mayor Caren Ray Russom, former city manager Jim Bergman resigned suddenly. The city council then temporarily moved Public Works Director Bill Robeson into the manager position.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the city council is also planning on creating a new position of assistant city manager and public works director for Robeson.

Robeson’s proposed $175,880 salary has two components: $154,380 for his work as the public works director and an additional $21,500 for performing assistant city manager duties.

The position and salary changes will cost the city $22,000 this fiscal year and $33,000 in the 2021/2022 fiscal year. Recently, the city voted to forego an election for write-in candidates in order to save $28,000.

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Expect our taxes and fees to be raised any day now, someone has to pay for this, or first the the threat of having to cut services and public safety without the tax and fee increases.

I guess this explains why they canceled elections…had to find a way to support the salary of the new city manager. Just another example of the incestuous slo county politics. Probably a way for the city to get in good with the county due to some future land use project that they are lobbying for…who better than someone who worked in the county counsel office that specialized in land use and zoning…heaven forbid they hire someone who actually has more than 6months of supervising large diverse organizations like public works, engineering, budget, admin, finance, etc…

Massive salaries to hide what is going on. For a small city such as AG this should be contracted out at a much lower cost and with much more transparency.

“The city is offering McDonald a base salary of $189,948 annually and an additional $2,200 to a deferred compensation program.”

Jeez- not bad for a no-name nobody who has never been a city manager anywhere ever before- not even in East Butthole, North Dakota.

So, where can the rest of us despicable little common people sign up for such a “job”?