At least four San Diego management-level employees received raises in the last two months, even as the city has attempted to hold salaries steady in negotiations with employee groups and after voters approved a pensionable pay freeze for city workers in June.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders approved three of the raises, and the city’s Civil Service Commission OK’d the fourth. Together the raises total nearly $60,000.

Sanders’ top deputy Jay Goldstone said the three employees under mayoral control took on much bigger workloads.

Jim Barwick, who heads the city’s Real Estate Assets Department, received a $12,500 raise and now makes $156,000. Barwick’s new responsibilities, Goldstone said, include managing properties formerly controlled by the city’s defunct redevelopment agency.

Two Financial Management directors, Julio Canizal and Irena Kumitz, received raises totaling $35,950. Goldstone said they absorbed the workload of an employee who left the department who had made $120,000 a year. Canizal and Kumitz now both make $138,000.

“This latest personnel move actually saves the city money,” Goldstone said in a statement.

Hadi Dehghani, the city’s personnel director, also received a $10,000 pay increase to $180,000 in September. The Civil Service Commission approved his raise.

Unionized workers haven’t received across-the-board pay increases in years. The Proposition B pension initiative passed in June recommends a freeze on employees’ pensionable pay until mid-2018, a move estimated to save almost $1 billion.

The initiative called for the city to negotiate a pay freeze with unionized employees. But it doesn’t specifically mention nonunionized managers, such as the four who received raises.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said the initiative was “ambiguous” on whether the pay freeze applied to nonunionized workers. Goldsmith said his office had a conflict of interest in writing a legal opinion on non-union raises and that outside attorneys addressed the issue in a September memo. Sanders’ office did not provide that legal opinion by late Thursday.

Prop. B does allow unionized employees to receive more money in three ways. Employees can still receive automatic pay hikes known as step increases, bonuses that don’t count toward their pension calculations and promotions.

But the four raises approved in the last two months come without promotions and will count toward those employees’ pensions.

Sanders has long touted that he’s held the line on employee salaries during the city’s pension and financial crisis. But the mayor did hand out $46,000 in raises to two department directors in spring 2011.

Liam Dillon is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He covers San Diego City Hall, the 2012 mayor’s race and big building projects. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at or 619.550.5663.

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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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