Irvine‘s city manager has a new contract and a considerable pay bump.
City leaders unanimously approved a new, rolling three-year contract for Oliver Chi who now makes about $370,000 per year — up from just over $301,000 when he first started. The raise, city documents state, includes a 5% merit adjustment for the prior year and an additional adjustment of 5% for the review period.
“He knows so much about what’s going on in the city,” said Councilmember Kathleen Treseder. “I can ask him any small detail, any department, and he will have the answer right on hand.”
If the city chooses to terminate Chi without cause, he can receive six months’ pay plus benefits while Irvine seeks out a replacement for his role, according to city documents. If he is terminated with cause — for example, because of criminal activity, negligence at work or misuse and destruction of city property — there will be no compensation.
The pay increase is effective Wednesday, July 12.
Under Chi’s tenure as city manager, Irvine has embarked on an ambitious development of the next phase of 300 acres of amenities in the Great Park. The $1 billion project includes the Veteran’s Memorial Park and Gardens, botanical gardens and a 14,000-seat amphitheater in partnership with Live Nation.
Chi, who came to Irvine from Huntington Beach, also spearheaded the purchase of the All American asphalt plant that was the subject of resident’s complaints for years. The plant will be converted to the Gateway Preserve, an approximately 700-acre open space preserve with hiking and biking trails on and around the land where the plant sits. The project is designed to include expansive green spaces, native gardens and outdoor classrooms.
Irvine has also gotten increased negative attention of late. In January, the Justice Department released a plea deal that said political consultant Melahat Rafiei attempted to defraud a cannabis dispensary client associated with her firm. As part of its investigation, the FBI interviewed Chi in March.
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