San Luis Obispo City Attorney Christine Dietrick will receive a 4 percent bump in her salary, bringing her annual pay from $168,000 to $175,006.
On May 20, the SLO City Council voted 3-2 to raise Dietrick’s pay, the third consecutive increase in as many years.
“I think the message we want to send with this is one of basic fairness to our employees,” Councilman John Ashbaugh said shortly before the vote was cast near midnight at the end of the regular meeting.
Dietrick was appointed city attorney in 2010 at a salary of $155,000. As one of two appointed officials alongside City Manager Katie Lichtig, Dietrick’s compensation isn’t held to the same step formula as other city employees, but rather she receives annual evaluations. Though no city councilmember questioned Dietrick’s performance—in fact, all commended the job she’s done—Kathy Smith and Dan Carpenter voted against the pay increase amid worries that it would pave the way for other city employees to snatch up more pay in upcoming meetings with the city’s labor groups.
“It is just my concern over laying the groundwork for negotiations with employees in the months ahead,” Smith said.
Mayor Jan Marx, however, said Dietrick still makes less than her male predecessor Jonathan Lowell, adding, “I think your fears are really overblown.”
Carpenter echoed concerns that the city is positioning itself to get hammered in negotiations, and threw in a few jabs at Measure Y, the half percent sales tax often criticized as a money pot for employees’ salaries rather than capital improvement projects.
“I guarantee, the union representatives are watching and listening to us very closely tonight and they will use that against us,” Carpenter said. “This is Measure Y money.”
Dietrick received an approximately 5 percent raise in 2013 and a 3.5 percent pay increase in 2012. She did not receive a raise in 2011. The pre-existing salary range for city attorney is listed in previous city staff reports as $175,240 annually.