LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, who helped guide the city back from the fiscal brink in 2009, is leaving city government.
Santana will become chief executive of the Los Angeles County Fair Association starting January 17. The association manages the county fair and other events at the Pomona fairgrounds.
Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed Santana as CAO, a position that provides guidance to both the city council and mayor on budget issues, in July 2009.
"I'm proud of the work Miguel and I did together and what we were able to accomplish during tough economic times," said, Villaraigosa, who is running for governor. "He is tremendously talented, and I know he will do great things at the Los Angeles County Fair Association."
Santana joined Los Angeles during the height of the recession, and helped navigate the city successfully through the tough times working decisively to help mitigate the impacts of the downturn and put the city in a strong position to emerge quickly, said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
He consistently kept spending on track, managed the city's debt carefully, and led responsible labor negotiations that benefit both the city and its workers, Garcetti said in a statement.
"It's been an honor to help our city overcome difficult economic challenges, and seize new opportunities to improve the quality of life for Angelenos," Santana said in a statement. "I've been fortunate to work with Mayor Garcetti, along with so many other committed leaders, and I look forward to continuing my public service in a new role."
Santana will replace James Henwood as chief executive officer at the fair association. Henwood lead the association for two decades, but resigned in March. Cal Poly Pomona President J. Michael Ortiz, chairman of the fair organization's board of directors, was named to head the organization on an interim basis.
The California State Auditor in a report criticized the high salaries of Henwood and the fair association's other executives and the thousands of dollars in meals and entertainment provided to the nonprofit's members and board of directors. Auditors also claimed that the county has lost millions in revenues from its weak oversight of its contract with the association.
Henwood made more than $1 million in total compensation in 2014, though the association reported financial losses.
Santana, 47, assumes his new role at a salary of $485,000 with a 10% bonus, a large increase from the $303,762 he currently earns as CAO, but roughly half of what Henwood earned in 2014. Santana will also receive a $25,000 signing bonus.
Santana has had the task of finding places the city could cut its budget, which has resulted in recommendations that include laying off city employees, reforming pension benefits and privatizing some city functions.
That brought the ire of union officials before the election of Garcetti in 2013, but the mayor and City Council President Herb Wesson supported the budget hawk.
Santana also has led efforts to tackle the city's homelessness problem, which resulted in voters' recent approval of Measure HHH, which provides $1.2 billion toward efforts to combat the issue.
Prior to being named CAO, he worked as one of five deputy chief executive officers for Los Angeles County. He also worked as chief of staff to former County Supervisor Gloria Molina.