Directors of the Goleta Water District on Tuesday night will consider approving a 1-percent pay raise for general manager John McInnes, a move that would increase his annual salary to just under $200,000, making him one of the highest paid special-district employees on the South Coast.
The board of directors is scheduled to vote on whether to authorize President Bill Rosen to approve the increase, which would pay McInnes an additional $1,979.09 to his annual base salary of $197,909.
The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the district headquarters, 4699 Hollister Ave.
At its July 10 meeting, the board conducted McInnes’ performance evaluation in closed session. After that meeting, the board expressed interest in approving a merit increase for McInnes.
Rosen told Noozhawk Monday that McInnes has done an “extraordinary job” for the district, which he said is the largest special district in the county.
“He and his staff have managed the budget with insight and care and reduced spending in numerous budget categories,” he said.
McInnes was hired as general manager December 2009, and his contract requires an annual evaluation.
He was hired with a base salary of $194,220, which put him as the second highest employee among special districts in charge of utilities on the South Coast, according to a Santa Barbara County Grand Jury report published last year that documented the salaries and benefits of public employees.
McInnes was second only to Kamil Azoury, general manager of the Goleta Sanitary District, who reported $250,822 on his W-2 that year.
In addition to his salary, which equates to more than $16,000 a month, McInnes also receives a monthly car allowance of $569 a month.
Michael Rattray, board chairman of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, weighed in on the issue Monday.
“We hope that the Goleta Water Board is truly reviewing the merits of any compensation increases for all positions in light of the economics of the district and the rationale giving to its customers this past year for their substantial rate increases,” he said. “Though all business should recognize merit increases based on performance measurements, it appears that a 1-percent increase is more reflective of a COLA adjustment, which may be questionable in these economic times.”
Last summer, the board approved a 73-percent rate increase on new commercial water application requiring an increase in water use, and the district’s depleted reserves and much-needed capital improvements were listed as the primary causes of the increases. District officials also stated that water usage and sales have dropped 12 percent in the past two years, with rising State Water costs also leaving the district with financial challenges.
The board approved that increase despite an outcry from many in the business and agricultural communities.
Last March, McInnes told the board that the district would not be able to stay solvent if it didn’t recuperate revenues.
“We’re down to the point to where there are no more costs to be cut,” he said.