SLO city manager to earn base salary above $200,000

Derek Johnson

Incoming San Luis Obispo City Manager Derek Johnson will receive a base salary of $209,000, only about $12,000 less than the annual rate at which his predecessor began, which sparked a controversy at the time.

In 2010, Katie Lichtig took over as SLO city manager with a base salary of about $221,000. Lichtig’s pay has since increased, with her base salary rising to $230,116 in 2016.

Lichtig also received $92,674 in benefits last year, bringing her total pay to $337,622, according to Transparent California. It is unclear how much Johnson is slated to receive in benefits.

Recently, Lichtig announced she is resigning in order to assume the role of assistant city manager and chief operating officer for the city of Santa Monica, where she began her municipal career. Over the past couple years, Lichtig had been grooming Johnson, currently SLO’s assistant city manager, as her successor.

The San Luis Obispo City Council formally announced Johnson’s hire on Tuesday. Mayor Heidi Harmon stated in a news release that the council recognizes and appreciates Lichtig’s “strategic investment mentoring and preparing Johnson,” and that combined with Johnson’s municipal leadership experience, passion for the community and vision made his selection easy.

“Derek has played a key role in many projects, such as the general plan update, and he has done so with competence and professionalism,” Harmon said. “This assures the council that he not only is knowledgeable about the issues and challenges the city faces but that he also knows how to identify priorities, engage the community, lead staff and solve problems.”

Johnson has worked for the city of SLO since 2011. He served as community development director prior to becoming assistant city manager in 2015.

In a statement on his hire, Johnson, too, thanked Lichtig for serving as a mentor.

“San Luis Obispo is such a wonderful place,” Johnson said. “As city manager, my goal is to ensure that those who live, work and visit here have the resources they need to enjoy it, which also requires that the city be financially healthy. Luckily, I learned a lot from a great mentor.”

Lichtig’s last day working in San Luis Obispo will be Sept. 28. Johnson will take over as city manager on Sept. 29.

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