Encinitas city manager gets 2 percent raise

Karen Brust, the city manager Encinitas hired away from San Juan Capistrano in 2015, has been granted her first raise.

The City Council unanimously agreed Wednesday, Dec. 20, to raise her salary by 2 percent, or $4,760 a year. With the change, which is retroactive to June 1, her base salary now will be $242,760 a year.

She'll be getting both a raise and some recognition, Councilman Tony Kranz said immediately after the vote as he held out a plaque Brust recently received from the International City/County Management Association for three decades of outstanding government service.

When they announced the decision to hire Brust two years ago, council members were jubilant, saying they were thrilled to get her to leave San Juan Capistrano. They praised her extensive management experience and her many connections to the San Diego region. She's a longtime Olivenhain resident, and was city manager of Del Mar before she took the job in San Juan Capistrano. Prior to her work in Del Mar, she was the financial director and treasurer for the San Diego County Water Authority.

This fall, Councilman Mark Muir and Mayor Catherine Blakespear served on the council subcommittee that performed Brust's employee evaluation and recommended her raise.

Her base salary before her raise was more than the $216,300 a year the previous Encinitas city manager was receiving when he left in early 2015 to take a job in Northern California. That city manager, Gus Vina, was unemployed when Encinitas hired him and that put the city in a very good salary negotiating position right from the start of his employment, council members said at the time.

While Brust's starting salary was far more than Vina's ending salary, Kristin Gaspar — the city's then-mayor and now current county supervisor — noted that Brust was actually taking a pay cut to come to Encinitas. Her salary in San Juan Capistrano was scheduled to increase to $250,000 the month that she took the Encinitas job, Gaspar said.

Even her starting salary in San Juan Capistrano some four years previously was higher than what Vina received just before he left Encinitas. Her starting salary was $218,000, her employment contract there indicated.

In addition to a base salary, city managers often receive other benefits. Under the terms of her Encinitas contract, Brust also receives a $500 monthly car allowance, a $100 monthly cell phone allowance, and standard city employee health care benefits. She is an "at will" employee, meaning that she serves at the pleasure of the City Council and her contract can be terminated at any time.

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