Mesa Water GM’s Latest $10,000 Incentive Payment Isn’t For Transparency

Back in May, I reported that Mesa Water District General Manager Paul Shoenberger was one of the highest, if not the highest, paid local government CEO in Orange County. He earns a salary higher than public CEOs who run local governments that are much bigger in size and scope, such as the Orange County Fire Authority, the County of Orange and the Orange County Sanitation District.

His annual salary is $266,077, according to the most recently available data; when benefits and other pay are factored in his total compensation rises to $346,599.

Several months ago, in November 2016, Mesa Water’s Board of Directors voted 5-0 to give Shoenberger a “one-time incentive payment of $10,000” to be paid by the end of 2016.

Six months later, on May 18, 2017, the Board of Directors voted 5-0 to give Shoenberger another “one-time incentive payment of $10,000.”

The Board is giving its general manager a lot of incentive, although increasing district transparency doesn’t seem to be one of the incentive areas.  Item 20 on the May 18 meeting agenda refers to a “performance evaluation for the general manager.” It says nothing about a $10,000 incentive payment.

The staff report is buried on page 481 of the 491-page board agenda packet. It says, “This item has been agendized to provide the Board the opportunity to discuss the General Manager’s contract terms and conditions of employment, and take action if desired” and states “There is no financial impact for the discussion of this item unless action is taken by the Board.” Again, no mention of a $10,000 incentive payment.

What explanation did the Board members give for the $10,000 payment? What is he being given incentive to do? It’s hard to say. Mesa Water doesn’t broadcast its meetings online, and doesn’t provide archived video or audio of its Board meetings, so we don’t know what, if anything, the directors said when approving the $10,000 payment. The board meeting minutes only mention that Shoenberger was given a $10,000 incentive payment. In fact, the only way Mesa Water ratepayers would know about the payment is if they read the May 18 agenda minutes.

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