Oceano CSD gets new manager

Tom Geaslen, who has been the interim general manager since June, is hired to permanent post at a salary of $126,000 a year

clambert@thetribunenews.comMarch 21, 2012 

The Oceano Community Services District board has approved a contract with Tom Geaslen, who has served as interim general manager since June.

The contract makes Geaslen a permanent employee with a base salary of $126,000 annually and is retroactive to January. The increased salary makes Geaslen the third-highest paid general manager among community services districts in the county. As interim manager, Geaslen had received $7,750 a month.

The district provides water, sewer, fire protection and street lighting services to a population of 7,286 people.

The contract approval by the Oceano board came a few weeks after board members voted to increase Geaslen’s pay to $10,000 a month during a closed-session meeting Feb. 8. That vote prompted concerns that the district had violated the state’s open-meeting law, the Ralph M. Brown Act. The act stipulates that final action on compensation for employees, including independent contractors, must be taken in open session.

San Luis Obispo resident Kevin P. Rice demanded the district “cure and correct” its action. On March 14, the district board rescinded their previous action and approved a five-year contract with Geaslen.

The contract allows him to participate in the district’s retirement program, to be reimbursed for mileage and to accrue 15 days of vacation and five days of administrative leave a year. It also allows him health benefits and a $69 monthly cell phone allowance, but Geaslen said he does not plan to take either.

If Geaslen is terminated without cause before June 30, 2013, he would receive a severance equal to 12 months base salary (or equal to six months salary if terminated after that date). If he is terminated with cause, he would receive any salary earned but not yet paid and payment for any accrued vacation.

The benefits in Geaslen’s contract are similar to those provided to former General Manager Raffaele Montemurro, according to district legal counsel Molly Thurmond. Montemurro’s starting annual salary was set at $78,500 and increased to $87,500 in July 2010.

Montemurro was hired in October 2009 as the district’s fifth general manager in four years, including two interim managers. He was dismissed without cause May 31 and signed a settlement agreement that gave him $12,408, equal to two months salary plus accrued vacation.

How local CSD manager salaries compare

These numbers represent an annual base salary and do not include other forms of compensation, such as health or retirement benefits, vehicle or cell phone allowances.

Cambria — Jerry Gruber $150,000
Heritage Ranch — John D’Ornellas $120,000
Los Osos — Former General Manager Dan Gilmore $90,000*
Nipomo — Michael LeBrun $134,700
Oceano — Tom Geaslen $126,000
San Miguel — Rene Salas $85,000
Templeton — Jeff Hodge $115,000
* Gilmore resigned earlier this year; interim General Manager Mitch Cooney receives $3,250 a month but does not take any other benefits.

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