Cambria hires new general manager

April 22, 2023

Matthew McElhenie


The Cambria Community Services District Board voted 4-1 on Thursday to appoint Matthew McElhenie as general manager, with Director Tom Gray dissenting.

McElhenie replaces John Weigold who left in November for another position. District Engineer Ray Dienzo filled in during the interim.

For 15 years, McElhenie worked as a paramedic in the Cambria area.

He has a doctorate of public administration degree, a master’s degree in public safety administration and a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology.

“These unique and diverse experiences are what I believe will contribute to our community’s continued success and growth,” McElhenie wrote in a press release. “I am committed to upholding transparency, accountability, and inclusivity in all aspects of city governance.”

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$175,000 is not nearly enough considering the politics in Cambria.

I wish Matt the best in his new endeavor . Look forward to meeting him in person

A starting salary of $175,000 plus benefits, which likely pushes the total close to $300,000, ridiculous and no surprise rates have to keep rising and the pension system is bankrupt, but by all means continue the madness.

What should they be paid? Honestly? $75,000? $25,000? Nothing? The reality is it’s a position that manages hundreds of employees, the only way to get someone competent is to be somewhat competitive with private sector wages. You can’t expect public employees to be an effective group if all the good ones can get bought over to private business.

Cambria CSD, with a community of 6,000 residents DOES NOT have “hundreds of employees”. The CCSD has less than 30 part & full-time employees (including it’s fire department personnel), the GM manages the overall workings of the district. It’s the CSD department heads that manage the actually employees; a utility manger, a fire Chief and office manager.

A GM in Cambria has overarching political issues to manage. A failed experiment once called “Emergency” water project, resolving water shortage concerns, an aging wastewater plant, a dying forest/high fire risk, kids that want a skateboard park and a vocal community that differs greatly in its opinions on development.

This candidate is bright, articulate and capable, but I understand he is college course instructor and will not be giving up his teaching, resulting a 3-4 day work week for this salary/benefits. I hope, for Cambria’s sake, his performance proves he’s worth this kind of money for a part-time job.

Great comment, I found it informative and insightful, particularly about the candidate. Thank you for sharing

This situation of skyrocketing salaries and a bankrupt pension system is unsustainable, how do you suggest dealing with it?

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have all the answers.

The pension situation is hard to unjam due to past elected bodies kicking the can to today; the promise was for low salaries but great (too great) long term benefits as a way to get qualified employees, but low cost during their elected terms. Voters don’t want to hear about more spending on salaries and politicians rationally obliged. The unsinkable boat hit an iceberg in 2008 and it couldn’t recover without local governments picking up their own bill. It’s hard to unjam becauae promises were made and it would be wrong to break them, retirees shouldn’t lose the benefits they spent their careers for – the house of cards isn’t their fault.

Going forward I think the solution, although probably unpopular with this crowd, is to pay up front, and not down the road. That means higher salaries to get great engineers, administrators, teachers, officers, etc. We want the best people to work for our governments, not the rejects from private sector – that means being competitive with wages and a positive workspace (hopefully a better DMV for the workers is better for the customers…us). Of course by paying now, we can stop promising the long term benefits like high pensions – nipping in the bud a future crisis and removing the obligation from our children.

That’s my idea, curious if someone has something better (besides just paying bureaucrats in bread and water cause screw the government)