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Council Approves Raises for City Manager, Police Chief

By Jorge Casuso

December 19, 2023 -- Santa Monica's City Manager and Police Chief will receive salary bumps due to the domino effect triggered by an unusual clause in the City's union contract with police.

Under the adjusted salary rates approved by the City Council Tuesday, City Manager David White will earn an annual base pay of $402,552, while Police Chief Ramon Batista will make $376,764.

The police contract clause triggering both hikes requires that the "net pay" for officers be the second highest for their rank among the ten police departments in Southern California listed in the contract.

After a 10.3 percent salary hike kicked in on January 1, 2023, followed by a 1 percent increase in July, the clause caused the Deputy Police Chief's salary to jump from $255,984 to $284,736, according to a staff report to the Council.

Although the salary was far lower than the $355,440 made by the Chief, the Deputy Chief's salary was boosted by supplemental pay, including longevity, educational incentives, deployment pay and a limited amount of overtime.

That additional pay resulted in Deputy Chief Darrick R. Jacob making more than his boss ("Police, Fire Dominate Top Earners List," August 23, 2023).

The adjusted rates the Council approved Tuesday pushed the Chief's salary back above that of his Deputy Chief.

In turn, it also pushed the chief's annual base salary $10,812 above that of his boss, the City Manager, who is making $365,952.

"Given the City Manager’s broad span of authority, it is necessary and appropriate to ensure that the City Manager is compensated at a level that exceeds the Police Chief," City staff wrote in its report to the Council.

"As a result, the total compensation for the City Manager will be more aligned with the compensation received by City Managers in neighboring municipalities."

"Finally, the proposed salary adjustments for the City Manager and Police Chief results in the City Manager’s salary at a level that is approximately 7% more than the Police Chief."

This is "a reasonable level of separation given the City Manager’s scope of responsibilities and is consistent with the level of separation between City Managers and Police Chiefs of comparable agencies."

The new pay hike should push City Manager White up in the salary rankings among his California colleagues, based on 2022 data compiled by Transparent California.

When it came to "regular pay," White made $347,059.36 last year, making him the seventh highest paid City Manager in California and the second-highest in Southern California after Beverly Hills City Manager George Chavez.

But despite the raise unanimously approved by the Council Tuesday, the man who runs the City may not be its top earner when it comes to total pay and benefits.

In 2022, White was 12th on the earnings list with pay and benefits totaling $487,885.05, according to Transparent California.

That was far below the $564,085.33 in pay and benefits made by Fire Captain Bart J. Elrich, whose largest single source of earnings -- $205,356.24 -- was from overtime.

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