Thursday | July 20, 2017
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New raise proposal before Salary Commission

The number of Hawaii County administrators who would receive pay raises has been cut by about half under a new plan before the county’s Salary Commission.

The plan, introduced at the commission’s Wednesday meeting, would provide raises for 13 department heads and deputies rather than 25 as previously proposed.

The raises would range between 9 and 13.5 percent.

The plan, which wasn’t acted on, would cost the county an additional $149,496 a year.

That’s down from $224,646 under the proposal withdrawn by the commission in April after some members of the public spoke against it. Finance Director Nancy Crawford had also expressed concern over the cost.

A subcommittee of commission members went back to the drawing board in response, and drafted the version now under consideration.

Commission Vice Chairwoman Pudding Lassiter said the goal of the new proposal was to eliminate pay inversion, in which a subordinate makes more than a department head.

The new plan would largely do that. Eleven of the 13 positions marked for the proposed raises currently receive less pay than their highest paid subordinate.

Mayor Billy Kenoi is among the executives no longer proposed for a raise.

He had said he wasn’t opposed to raises for hardworking department heads but didn’t believe he needed one. Kenoi had also said he would give his additional pay, which would have been $22,002, to Hawaii Island’s United Way.

Kenoi is currently making $109,152 a year, which is 16.6 percent less than his highest paid subordinate.

Though the new plan provides raises to fewer officials, it does offer pay increases to Hawaii Fire Department Chief Darren Rosario and Deputy Chief Renwick Victorino who were left out of the previous proposal.

Lassiter, who was one of three members on the subcommittee, told Stephens Media Hawaii their salaries should be on par with that of Hawaii Police Department Chief Harry Kubojiri and Deputy Police Chief Paul Ferreira.

The pay for the top police and fire administrators is currently the same at $114,768 and $109,296 respectively.

Because of a subordinate in the police department receiving $123,624, Lassiter said the committee thought it was fair to increase pay for Kubojiri and Ferreira.

But that would also mean there would be a pay gap between the two departments, which the new proposal closes.

Under the plan, the police and fire chiefs would each make $127,338 and deputy chiefs would each make $124,098.

“They work just as hard,” Lassiter said, referring to the department heads. “They are the ones who take care of us.”

Commission Chairwoman Karolyn Lundkvist said the meeting was the first time the whole commission had seen the new proposal, adding members need more time to digest it.

The commission’s next meeting will be Oct. 30 in the Hilo council chambers.

The commission has already missed the July 1 start of the new fiscal year and was more recently planning to have the new salaries in effect by Oct. 1.

Molly Stebbins, deputy corporation counsel, said the commission can choose to make pay increases retroactive.

Email Tom Callis at