No raise for Del Mar Fairgrounds CEO

State officials have nixed a previously approved plan to give Del Mar Fairgrounds Chief Executive Officer Tim Fennell a 29 percent raise to reward his performance and prevent him from seeking a higher-paying job, it was reported Thursday.

The raise received tentative approval late last year by the 22nd District Agricultural Association that runs the state fairgrounds. But final approval rested with the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Linda Berg Gandara, chief counsel for the food and agriculture department, said the requested salary increase would have exceed the amount authorized in the state’s pay scales,The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Fennell already makes $143,544 a year, which is at the top of the state’s pay scale for his position, according to the Union-Tribune. Had he received the 29 percent raise, his salary would have increased to $186,120, retroactive to November.

Since Fennell became the fairgrounds’ CEO in 1993, total gross annual revenue has increased nearly 400 percent to $57.4 million.