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Here are the top 10 highest-paid city employees in San Luis Obispo last year

The San Luis Obispo City Council is seeking public input on city spending goals and priorities.
The San Luis Obispo City Council is seeking public input on city spending goals and priorities. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Seven fire officials were among the city of San Luis Obispo’s top 10 earners in 2017, due to additional pay that significantly boosted their base salaries.

The reason? A rash of California fires that pulled many San Luis Obispo city firefighters from their local duties to help across the state.

The top spot belonged to a city fire captain who earned $125,091 in overtime pay in addition to regular pay and other compensation, totaling $241,713 in wages.

A statewide government database operated by the State Controller’s Office shows the top five highest paid positions were fire officials — all but one of whom more than doubled their regular salary.

The names of the employees aren’t listed in the database.

However, some are readily known because of their positions. City Attorney Christine Dietrick earned $214,832 (ranking sixth), former City Manager Katie Lichtig was the city’s eighth highest paid at $211,880 (she worked nine months of 2017, however, before departing to a new job in Santa Monica), while a police sergeant ranked ninth at $204,887.

Lichtig was the highest paid employee of the city in 2016, earning $244,948 in wages (with a based salary of about $230,000, including lump sum and “other pay”) according to the database.

Assistant City Manager Derek Johnson replaced her at the city’s helm for the last three months of 2017, earning $186,920 in 2017.

Lichtig left for a new job in Santa Monica. San Luis Obispo’s Human Resources Director Monica Irons said Lichtig’s compensation included a final cash payout of accrued vacation.

Katie Lichtig
Katie Lichtig, former SLO city manager. Jayson Mellom The Tribune

Johnson was hired on in October 2017 with a base salary that started at $209,000.

The pay figures don’t include the totals for retirement and health compensation, which were tallied separately.

The city received reimbursements from partnering agencies, including Cal Fire, to pay for the out-of-area work, Johnson said.

“There were a ton of fires taking place,” Johnson said. “We had our firefighters doing all sorts of things to help out, and they were working mutual aid off and on throughout the year. But we did get reimbursements for pay and equipment..”

SLO Brew 3
San Luis Obispo firefighters respond to a fire at SLO Brew at 736 Higuera St. City firefighters were among the city's highest earners in 2017. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Overall, the city listed 444 employees in 2017 and total wages were $36,871,319.

The top earning positions in the city of San Luis Obispo for 2017 included the following:

1. Fire Captain: $241,713

Regular Pay: $96,015

Overtime Pay: $125,091

Lump-Sum Pay: $0

Other Pay: $20,607

Total Retirement and Health Contribution: $44,015*

*Total retirement and health contributions not factored into total wages.

2. Fire Captain: $229,122

Regular Pay: $97,021

Overtime Pay: $111,864

Lump-Sum Pay: $0

Other Pay: $20,237

Total Retirement and Health Contribution: $44,337

3. Fire Battalion Chief: $227,744

Regular Pay: $131,738

Overtime Pay: $84,202

Lump-Sum Pay: $0

Other Pay: $11,804

Total Retirement and Health Contribution: $41,571

4. Fire Captain: $217,722

Regular Pay: $100,033

Overtime Pay: $105,922

Lump-Sum Pay: $0

Other Pay: $11,767

Total Retirement and Health Contribution: $42,952

5. Fire Captain: $215,900

Regular Pay: $99,680

Overtime Pay: $99,818

Lump-Sum Pay: $0

Other Pay: $16,402

Total Retirement and Health Contribution: $36,068

6. City Attorney: $214,832

Regular Pay: $187,584

Overtime Pay: $0

Lump-Sum Pay:$16,988

Other Pay: $10,260

Total Retirement and Health Contribution: $65,259

7. Fire Captain $213,808

Regular Pay: $97,711

Overtime Pay: $108,014

Lump-Sum Pay: $0

Other Pay: $8,083

Total Retirement and Health Contribution: $41,586

8. City Manager: $211,978

Regular Pay: $171,450

Overtime Pay: $0

Lump-Sum Pay: $26,724

Other Pay: $13,804

Total Retirement and Health Contribution: $58,991

9. Police Sergeant: $204,887

Regular Pay: $119,978

Overtime Pay: $76,918

Lump-Sum Pay: $4,859

Other Pay: $3,132

Total Retirement and Health Contribution: $35,397

10. Fire Captain: $200,864

Regular Pay: $94,235

Overtime Pay: $83,951

Lump-Sum Pay: $0

Other Pay: $22,678

Total Retirement and Health Contribution: $44,020

Nick Wilson: 805-781-7922, @NickWilsonTrib
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