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During Lean Times for the City, Certain Staff Members Slated to Get Hefty Raises

Proposed Equity Adjustments Raise Questions Amid Budgetary Concerns

The next Santa Monica City Council Meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 27, starting at 5:30 p.m. In the agenda for this meeting, we have found that there is an item on the agenda: 11. B. Financial Status Update and FY 2023-24 Midyear Budget that has several staff recommendations in regards to fiscal year 2023-2024 of the Santa Monica City budget.

Section 11. B has one particular item, called Attachment B, which states, “Staff also recommends that the City Council: 2. Adopt a Resolution establishing new classifications and adopting salary rates for various positions (Attachment B).”

Attachment B says, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SANTA MONICA ESTABLISHING NEW CLASSIFICATIONS AND ADOPTING SALARY RATES FOR THE FOLLOWING NEW OR EXISTING CLASSIFICATIONS: ASSISTANT CITY MANAGER, CHIEF OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR-CAO, COMPUTER AIDED DISPATCH ADMINISTRATOR, COMMUNITY BROADBAND ADMINISTRATOR, DEPUTY CITY MANAGER, FINANCIAL REPORTING AND SYSTEMS ADMINISTRATOR, MAINTENANCE ASSISTANT, PAYROLL ADMINISTRATOR, PAYROLL ANALYST I, PAYROLL ANALYST II, AND PRINCIPAL INFORMATION SECURITY ANALYST. NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SANTA MONICA DOES RESOLVE AS FOLLOWS:  

SECTION 2. The following salary levels are hereby established, effective March 10, 2024, for the indicated classifications: 

Classification Salary Reason 

Assistant City Manager $348,936/annual Step 5 Equity adjustment 

Community Broadband Administrator $159,360/annual Step 5 Equity adjustment 

Deputy City Manager $273,576/annual Step 5 Equity adjustment  

We have omitted the salaries that are new classifications since they are new and do not have a previous salary on record and concentrated on the top salaries that are considered Equity Adjustments. 

We were contacted by a city of Santa Monica press representative who told us that there was a “factual inaccuracy” in our report. Our report was based on the publicly available and incomplete information on the Santa Monica government’s website. They asked us to update the information, and we requested the full salary schedule to verify this information. These are the updated figures, which still represent substantial increases in salary for the two positions.

According to the Santa Monica City salary schedule, the Assistant City Manager currently, as of July 31, 2023, is at the current Step 5 salary of $316,836, which means that the Assistant City Manager would be getting an equity adjustment of $32,100 each year going forward, which is roughly a 9.64% increase. 

The Deputy City Manager is at the current Step Five salary of $226,212 annually, and the equity adjustment for this position is $47,364 each year going forward. This would be a 18.95% increase annually. 

The Community Broadband Administrator currently makes $155,232.00 annually, and this equity adjustment would mean an additional $4,128 annually. This represents a much more modest 2.6% increase compared to the other two salaries. 

These questions arise because of a part of City Manager David White’s message in the FY 2023-2025 budget under the topic of Fiscal Sustainability. The relevant section states, “The General Fund Forecast shows revenues only slightly exceeding expenditures (by approximately $100,000) on an annual basis during the Budget period. This positive balance reflects the use of working capital reserves beginning in FY 2024-25. Working capital will be needed beyond FY 2024-25, and even with the use of these reserves, staff currently projects negative balances of $0.6 and $1.5 million, respectively, in FY 2026-27 and FY 2027-28.”

Because the city seems to be at a point where the budget might be barely breaking even or even potentially in the negative in the future, this seems like a large increase for two employees who already have respectable salaries. This is not set in stone, however, and will be voted on by the City Council on Tuesday, during the City Council meeting.

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