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Wednesday, January 16 , 2019, 5:51 pm | Rain Fog/Mist 60º


Santa Barbara Council OK’s $10,000 City Attorney Raise, Executive Manager Perks

The Santa Barbara City Council voted this week to increase City Attorney Ariel Calonne's annual salary 4.5 percent, to $238,466.91 from $228, 78.86.

In a separate move, the council also voted to reimburse moving expenses, not to exceed $12,500 (indexed to CPI), and a temporary housing allowance not to exceed 12 percent of the base salary for the position and limited to the first year of employment.

The council slipped the two items onto its consent agenda on Tuesday — meaning it was planned to be voted on as part of a group of eight items.

The salary increases and perks wouldn't have even come up at the meeting if it weren't for Councilman Gregg Hart, who asked to discuss the two items openly at the meeting.

The council voted 6-1 to support the salary increase and additional perks. Hart voted no. 

"I think City Attorney Calonne is doing a fantastic job," Hart said. "He's very well-valued in the organization and I do not object in any way to him getting a raise, but I don't the support the 4.5 percent raise that is proposed."

Hart said the city has been doing a good job of holding the line on salary increases at 3 percent.

"I think this sets a bad precedent of going beyond that level of compensation," Hart said.

Hart also objected to the relocation and housing perks. He said Santa Barbara already pays competitive salaries. 

"We obviously need to recruit the best people we can for management positions," Hart said.

"Santa Barbara as an organization is a high quality job. I think that although it is difficult to recruit people it is not necessary to have this additional level of compensation for those positions. I am concerned that having this policy in place will just lead to inflation of benefits for management and I don't think it is appropriate in this environment and this economy."

Kristy Schmidt, administrative services director for the city, said that "as the baby boomers retire and leave the labor market, staff has noticed that competition for experienced managers in the public sector is heating up."

She said public sector management-level positions are difficult to recruit for and requires city officials to look state and nationwide.

"Relocation assistance is a benefit that more employers are offering to outside management candidates," she said. 

City Administrator Paul Casey recently offered a moving expense reimbursement and temporary housing allowance to Assistant City Manager Pamela Antil, who last worked in the city of San Jose for less than a year. Antil was hired earlier this year.

The salary range for the assistant city manager position is between $170,000 and $206,000 annually.

Antil was offered up to $24,000 in temporary housing allowance over 12 months and she accepted the offer. She was reimbursed $8,288 for relocation expenses, Schmidt said. 

Community Development Director George Buell, hired in 2014 after working for the city of Oceanside, was offered up to $16,200 over six months in temporary housing allowance, and was reimbursed $6,907 for relocation expenses.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina 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.

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