Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach water district raises pay of general manager

The Santa Fe Irrigation District Board of Directors gave a 5.6 percent pay raise to the district’s general manager, Michael Bardin, at its meeting on Thursday, March 16.

As a result, Bardin’s base pay increases to $225,000 per year, from its previous level of $213,140, which was set in May 2014. Bardin has held his position with the district since 2004.

The board approved the pay raise on a 4-1 vote, with director Marlene King opposed.

In a written statement, board president Michael Hogan said, “The board’s action to increase the general manager’s compensation was the first time his salary has been adjusted since 2014. The 5.6 percent increase is comparable to the total increases received by district employees over the same three-year period. His administration and financial management of the district is to be commended especially during the recent emergency drought declaration that resulted in a decrease in revenues due to 25 percent reduction in water demands. As a result of his efforts, the district continued to meet its core services while maintaining one of the lowest water rates in the county.”

King also released a written statement regarding her vote against Bardin’s pay raise:

“Regarding reasons for my ‘no’ vote on the salary increase for General Manager Bardin, which occurred three months into this current Board’s term, the Brown Act forbids revealing comments made in Closed Session. The 2016 Board carefully deliberated Mr. Bardin’s yearly performance evaluation and directed “no action taken” on 11/17/16 agenda item #16, ‘Consider Amending Employment Agreement between Santa Fe Irrigation District and General Manager Michael J. Bardin, as Amended, Regarding Compensation.’ I stand by the integrity of the three-month performance evaluation process carried out by the 2016 Board which directed no action be taken to increase the G.M.’s salary.”

Bardin oversees an agency that provides water to 20,000 customers in Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe and Fairbanks Ranch. The district’s operations and capital improvement budget for the current fiscal year, which runs through June 30, totals $35.7 million, and the district has 46 permanent employees.

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