Ernie Martin

BY JIM DOOLEY – Proposed pay raises for Honolulu elected officials are “unaffordable” and should be

Ernie Martin

rejected by the City Council, according to a resolution introduced by Council chairman Ernie Martin.

The three per cent raises were mandated last month by the City Salary Commission and will automatically kick in July 1 unless three-quarters of the Council (seven of nine members) votes to reject them.

Martin’s resolution covers the pay raises slated for elected officials including Council members and Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro.

The commission also awarded three per cent raises to most city department heads and their deputies.

Mayor Peter Carlisle, who is already accepting 85 per cent of his budgeted salary, said earlier he would not accept a pay raise and was not awarded one by the Commission.

Most city department heads and deputies voluntarily took a five per cent pay cut last year and the mayor may ask them “to continue with the pay cut, decline the salary commission raise or some other combination,” Managing Director Douglas Chin said this week.

The raises were approved over the objections of the administration, which cited ongoing fiscal difficulties facing the city.

Chin told the Commission that granting executive pay raises would also complicate ongoing contract negotiations the City is conducting with labor unions.

“If raises are approved for the mayor and his top leaders, the unions may ask, how can the administration take the position that its civil servants should be subject to a pay reduction?” Chin said in a letter to the commission.

“This is a highly sensitive issue now and I am concerned your decisions might complicate matters during a critical time,” Chin wrote.

Many rank-and-file City workers have already accepted five per cent pay cuts and the mayor is still negotiating similar contracts with others, including police officers and firefighters.

Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and Fire Chief Kenneth Silva last year refused to accept the five per cent pay waiver taken by other department heads.

They also sought and received pay raises this year from the Salary Commission.

The commission awarded a 5.5 per cent salary boost to Kealoha and his deputy chiefs. If the raises kick in, Kealoha will be paid $143,729 and his deputies $137,082.

Four per cent raises were awarded to Silva (to $141,685) and his deputies (to $135,133).

Both chiefs argued that they are paid substantially less than subordinate executives in their departments whose salaries are tied to civil service pay.

Chin pointed out that the same or worse pay disparities exist in 13 other departments – even before their directors and deputies voluntarily waived five per cent of their pay last year.

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com