Two high-level city of San Diego department directors recently received a total of $46,000 in raises, at the same time that the city continues to face a budget deficit and attempts to hold salaries steady in negotiations with employee groups.

Chief Financial Officer Mary Lewis has received a $30,000 raise and now makes $210,000 a year. She began working for the city in 2006 and Mayor Jerry Sanders promoted her to her current position in January 2008.

Risk Management Director Greg Bych has received a $16,000 raise and now makes $150,000 a year. He began working for the city 21 years ago and has worked in his current position since 2006.

Both Lewis and Bych will earn 6 percent less than their new salaries because of wage cuts taken by most city workers two years ago.

Sanders spokeswoman Rachel Laing said in an email that both Lewis and Bych had taken on additional responsibilities. Lewis, she said, is overseeing the city’s new computer system and will be adding “significant new duties” that will be announced next week.

Bych’s added responsibility is sitting on the board of the city retirement system, which he’s done for almost two years, Laing said. He also led the city’s retiree health care reform efforts and helped design its pension system for newer employees. Neither Lewis nor Bych has received a pay increase since they began in their current jobs, she said.

No other department directors have received raises of any kind, Laing added.

She did not respond to further requests for comment.

Sanders has touted holding the line on employee salaries as one of his major fiscal reforms since taking office in 2005. The biggest move came two years ago when, at Sanders’ urging, City Council approved 6 percent wage cuts on most city workers that have not been restored.

The raises come as the city is facing a $56.7 million budget deficit and is in negotiations with various employee groups for new contracts. Last week, the city’s white-collar union reached tentative agreement with the city on a one-year contract without salary increases. Union head Michael Zucchet called Lewis’ and Bych’s pay hikes “an extra kick in the gut.”

“The problem is in this environment when the city has done nothing but take from employees, it makes it very hard to read about fantastic raises for individual employees no matter how much they may deserve it,” Zucchet said.

Sanders refused to answer questions after a press conference Thursday. Lewis and Bych couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Please contact Liam Dillon directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/dillonliam.

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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