Fairgrounds’ top executive may get 29 percent pay increase

The state-run Del Mar Fairgrounds board quietly approved a whopping 29 percent raise for its top executive, it was reported Monday.

The 22nd District Agricultural Association approved the raise Nov. 12 in a closed meeting but never announced it, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune, which confirmed the action using the state’s public records law.

The raise requires state approval and is currently under review by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which oversees state-run fairgrounds.

If approved, the raise would increase Chief Executive Officer/General Manager’s Tim Fennell’s annual pay from $143,544 to $186,120, retroactive to Nov. 1, the newspaper reported.

Board officials have not spoken publicly on the decision, but in a letter to state officials, Board Chairman Kelly Burt wrote that the raise was needed to keep Fennell around, according to the Union-Tribune.

“The board recognizes that in order to retain and attract a competitive CEO, the District must officer a competitive salary. We cannot afford to lose Mr. Fennell,’' he wrote.