Monday, February 8 , 2016, 11:56 pm | Fair 55º

Salary May Be Hurdle for Wallar in Orange County Post

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper |

Whether Santa Barbara County CEO Chandra Wallar will accept a similar position with Orange County remained unclear Tuesday after a lengthy discussion by the Orange County Board of Supervisors about what to pay her.

Santa Barbara County CEO Chandra Wallar (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk file photo)
Santa Barbara County CEO Chandra Wallar (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk file photo)

After meeting in closed session, the five-member board tentatively decided it wants Wallar to come on board, but could not agree on her level of compensation.

She had asked for a base salary of $290,000, but would be required to pay 100 percent of her required employee pension contribution, which the former CEO did not have to do.

Under the proposed terms, Wallar would be automatically terminated if she chooses a pension, or similar defined-benefit plan, because “this board has been very adamant about double dippers,” Supervisor Janet Nguyen said.

Another candidate applied for the job but was already drawing retirement benefits from a public pension, and the board turned him down because of that.

Wallar’s total compensation package is still well below that of prior CEO Tom Mauk, but with a higher annual salary.

Nguyen said Wallar had said that she wanted to come to Orange County for the opportunity to manage a larger budget in a bigger county.

“This is more like ending her career at a very high level,” Nguyen said.

“Chandra Wallar is an excellent leader, and she’s really paid her dues,” said Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who noted that Wallar had received words of praise from supervisors, the sheriff and the DA’s office when he called them for advice. “I feel very good about her opportunity to lead this county.”

But Spitzer said he had difficulty agreeing to $290,000.

“I don’t want to lose Chandra, but I don’t want to move to $290k,” he said. “I just don’t think it’s justifiable to bring her in at a higher salary.”

The board took a straw vote and approved Wallar for the job based on her expertise, but was sending members to call her to see if she would negotiate a lower salary.

Wallar confirmed last month to members of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors that she was in talks to take the post.

Wallar sent an email less than 20 minutes before the start of the Feb. 19 board meeting, to all five supervisors, with the subject “Orange County” and a link to a story by Voice of OC, a nonprofit investigative news site based in Orange County.

In the email, Wallar said she wanted to give the supervisors, who apparently had been in the dark about her possible departure, a “heads-up” on the article’s appearance.

“Although the discussion is taking place, there has not been an open session to approve any agreement,” she said in the email.

Wallar began her tenure with Santa Barbara County in 2010, in the middle of one of the bleakest budget sessions in county history.

Since then, she’s grappled with everything from the county’s dysfunctional Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services, unfunded pension liabilities, and labor negotiations to a hiring freeze in an attempt to curb costs.

Wallar succeeded CEO Mike Brown, who had been at the county’s helm since 1996, and retired in 2010.

Wallar moved from San Diego County, where she had served since 1999 as deputy chief administrative officer and group general manager for the county’s Land Use and Environment Group. She managed 1,500 people and a budget of $400 million.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

» on 03.20.13 @ 03:04 AM

No civil servant should make over $100.000 plus their $50.000 in perks.

It is service..correct??

» on 03.20.13 @ 03:19 AM

I agree with the Orange County Board of Supervisors. They are right not to allow double dipping or paying a very high salary to someone who is already receiving retirement benefits from a public pension. I don’t blame them for resisting her compensation demands if this is the case with Ms Wallar. As a taxpayer, I appreciate that these elected representatives are actually more concerned with spending our tax dollars than appeasing public employees.

» on 03.20.13 @ 11:53 AM

At least in this instance, the OC BOS is paying attention to tax payer concerns over spending, pension abuse, etc.

Maybe they learned their lesson when OC had to declare bankruptcy a few years ago…...?

» on 03.20.13 @ 12:12 PM

Wallars true colors have emerged.  As hostile and punitive she has been towards labor, slashing and burning wherever possible, imposing low level wages on lowest paid workers, she greedily demands an exorbitant, grotesque salary in her quest to abandon the county she purported less than three years ago to want to work for.

» on 03.20.13 @ 12:13 PM

It is negotiations, the capitalistic way. 

Lou Segal needs to run for city council this year and bring this brand of common sense to the field so the voters have more such choices.

» on 03.20.13 @ 01:03 PM

I second that motion. Lou Segal for City Council….

» on 03.20.13 @ 01:16 PM

Overtaxed, if your suggestion was followed we would have government budgets in the tens to hundreds of millions managed by people with no clue as to how to do so.  False economy.  Good senior managers (not to be confused with long term govemployees who have progressed to high income through the gift of civil service compensation) can command high salaries in the private sector.  Why should anyone forgo that for government service?  BTW, this to me is not the same as paying all govemployees comp in excess of market, as is so often the case now, but rather of ensuring efficiency in the management of large budgets, which we often do not have now.

» on 03.20.13 @ 05:24 PM

I am so tired of the ignorant posts by “overtaxed taxpayer” and his/her supporters. They are absolutely clueless how complex it is to run a large local government organization but are the first to complain when they perceive a lack of service delivery from their local government.

I know that people like “Overtaxed” do not like to “overtax” their brains with FACTS, but Orange County went bankrupt because of financial difficulties that were the direct result of an enormous gamble with public funds, taken by the County Treasurer, Bob Citron, who was seriously under-qualified to deal in the kinds of investments he chose. Another FACT for “overtaxed” is that Bob Citron was an elected official - elected by the voters. He was not a civil servant nor an appointed government employee.

Running a large complex local goverment such as Orange County is way more complex than running many (not all) private business - believe me I have worked in both in executive positions.What these these constant complainers and angry people do not understand is that $300,000 is a very small amount given the size and budget as Orange County, that is respnsible for service delivery to 3 million residents.

But please do not let facts get in the way.

» on 03.20.13 @ 06:07 PM

Government workers are not always known to be the sharpest pencils in the box,and their pay today has no refection of his or her’s ability. These managers are the rejects of the private sector and have manipulated the system by injecting union puppets in power position (CITY COUNCIL) who rubber stamp most request for higher wages and paid time off. The government pay today in most cases is double that of a person in the private sector doing the same job?

The pension for these over staffed & over paid Departments is just outrageous and headed for bankruptcy.

» on 03.20.13 @ 06:57 PM

Once again “overtaxed” does not let any FACTS get in his/her way. Over simplification and demeaning insults are slinged towards all “government” employees - which btw include law enforcement officers that protect “overtaxed”, fire fighters who save “overtaxed’s” life in an accident and members of the armed forces, who are dying for his freedom to stay un-informed. According to “overtaxed” they are all stupid and are paid way above their ability - and the only reason they are employed by the government is their inability to “make it” in the private sector. Tell that to a Navy SEAL or a ParaJumper or Fighter Pilot the next time you meet one - who all are “government” employees!

It is really unfortunate that this type of fact-absent public discourse seems to be what shapes public policy today.

» on 03.20.13 @ 07:20 PM

This is not about the law enforcement or the military, we need these people and I do respect them) But the rest, the other 95% on the dole???
This it about all the wasteful over staffed over paid useless departments, with too many mangers, assistant managers, supervisors, assistant supervisors making over 100k plus on our dime.

The new technology today should enable government to consolidate many of these departments like the private sector?

So why does government keep getting bigger & bigger, and even less efficient ever year?

» on 03.20.13 @ 07:51 PM

There is nothing more pathetic than these government cubical hamsters whining about the sacrifices they make in order to serve us.  They are all under the believe that they could have been the next great CEO, captain of industry, or making the Forbes billionaire list if it wasn’t for their dedicated public service. 
Get rid of her, she can’t be trusted.  She is a great example of what’s wrong with career bureaucrats.  If she’s such a hot shot let go the private sector and make more money.  She doesn’t give 2 cents about SB or Orange Co.  She can find someplace else to double rip the public.

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