In spite of the economic downturn and possible public griping, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District's Board this week voted to give a 3 percent raise to the utility's general manager. The pay increase brings John DiStasio's total annual pay to about $360,355. "Every time there's a discussion regarding general manager compensation it is a difficult conversation," board member Bill Slaton said during the discussion on the matter at the Feb. 17 meeting. "I think the organization is performing exceptionally well," board president Renee Nunes-Taylor said. "We continue to maintain our low rates, we ended up this year with a surplus, we are not projecting rate increases for this coming year." The approval vote was not unanimous. Genevieve Shiroma said that issuing a raise while some ratepayers are suffering under the current economic climate sends the wrong message. "We have double-digit unemployment right now," she said. "I think we need to wait until there are better economic indicators experienced by our customer owners before we entertain an increase." The final vote was 6-1, with Shiroma voting against the raise. DiStasio, hired in June 2008, was making $349,860 before the raise. His new pay rate became effective immediately.