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SLO City Council considers compensation increases for two top employees 

In the wake of the city firing its police chief, the San Luis Obispo City Council is contemplating whether to hand out a little more money to the city’s top two employees.

On June 2, the council will have its first open-door public discussion—followed by a decision—on whether to give City Manager Katie Lichtig her car allowance back, with an additional one-time bump, and whether to give City Attorney Christine Dietrick a 7 percent raise.

Lichtig and Dietrick were both hired in January 2010 and both have since accepted a cut in total compensation since their hiring. In 2011, because of strategic budgetary planning that responded to the recession, the council negotiated an average 6.8 percent reduction in compensation for all city employees, according to Human Resources Director Monica Irons. Per the reduction, employees—including Lichtig and Dietrick—were asked to pay their 8 percent share into CalPERS, instead of the city making the payment.

During that period, Lichtig also recommended that the council waive her car allowance and her ability to cash out unused administrative leave hours, bringing a total 10.3 percent reduction to her compensation.

Now that times are better, the city is looking to restore some of those pay cuts, starting with Lichtig and Dietrick.

The council worked with a consultant to determine employee compensation bumps, which begin with the top employees and will trickle down as they negotiate compensation with department heads, department heads negotiate with managers, and so on, Irons said.

While councilmembers have to finalize the increases at the June 2 public hearing, they’ve already declared the recommendations in closed session, which include reinstating Lichtig’s $450-per-month car allowance and ability to cash out unused administrative leave hours, and the one-time $7,600 performance incentive bonus. As of June 2014, Lichtig’s salary was $221,520 and her total compensation package was $313,031.

The council will also need to finalize giving Dietrick her raise, also known as a “market equity adjustment,” upping her salary from $175,006 to $187,252, and bring her total compensation to $269,005.

-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay

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