San Diego Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer, under fire from critics who fault his handling of the city's hepatitis A epidemic, has been on a PR and political hiring spree of late, and the cost to taxpayers is mounting.
Per an October 19 letter released by the mayor's office following a request made under the California Public Records Act, newly hired Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Special Projects Kris Michell is getting an annual salary of $195,000, plus a monthly car allowance of $475, along with a hefty benefits package.
Pension money also figures into the deal.
Says the letter to Michell, "Because you have previously worked for the City of San Diego and did not withdraw your money from the San Diego City Employees' Retirement System (SDCERS), you are eligible to become a Member of the SDCERS defined benefit. You will be placed back in the Supplemental Pension Savings Plan with a mandatory contribution of 3.0% and are eligible for a voluntary contribution of 3.05%."
The letter goes on to say, "You will be eligible for Option C of the retiree health plan, and at which time you are age and service eligible a lump sum amount will be contributed to your health retirement account. The City's full medical benefit package will be available to you, or you can choose to opt out and receive a prorated amount of the $9,977 flexible benefit allotment over the remaining pay periods of this fiscal year."
Michell, who was last employed by the city as top political aide to GOP mayor Jerry Sanders, departed in December 2010 to head the Downtown San Diego Partnership.
There Michell was enmeshed in controversy regarding tardy lobbyist disclosure filings and last year's endorsement of the ultimately defeated Chargers stadium scheme.
While head of the Downtown Partnership, per a February 2017 federal disclosure for the 12-month period ending June 30 of last year, Michell received total compensation of $244,763.
Meanwhile, Greg Block, Faulconer's latest public relations specialist, is being paid $90,000 a year, according to a September 18 letter released by the city.
And a raise could be in the cards.
“Adjustments in the future will be determined by the Mayor or designee within a broad range established by the City Council.”
As a "new hire with no prior City Service," Block qualifies for an Interim Defined Contribution Retirement Plan, requiring employees "to contribute 9.2% of their compensation to the plan, which will be matched by a 9.2% employer contribution," the letter says.
As chief communications officer at San Diego State University, where he worked from 2008 until earlier this year, Block received total pay and benefits of $175,629 during 2016, according to the website Transparent California.
He left that position in February of this year for an eight-month gig as communications director at the Scripps Research Institute before signing on with Faulconer in September, per his LinkedIn profile.