Business/In Brief • Aug. 24, 2013

Study: Police highest paid public workers

KAILUA-KONA – Hawaii’s police officers were the highest-paid public employees in the state in early 2011, a newspaper reported.

A full-time police officer in Hawaii earned an average of $6,685 a month in March 2011, West Hawaii Today reported Thursday, citing newly released U.S. Census Bureau data.

University professors made an average of about $6,500 a month and firefighters averaged of about $6,400 at that time.

Hawaii’s police officers will be paid even more after winning a 16.8 percent raise over four years after binding arbitration.

The census data showed the average pay for all state and local employees in Hawaii was $3,432 a month in March 2011. The national average was $3,652.

Hawaii’s lowest-paid public workers were support personnel at public schools who earned about $2,107 a month.

“We believe the state offers a competitive package of wages and benefits,” said Louise Kim McCoy, a spokeswoman for Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “We also have a very hardworking and dedicated workforce.”

Hawaii County’s administration has said it may have to cut funding from other departments to come up with nearly $4 million for the police raises that weren’t factored into the budget.

“The state does not employ police officers. They are county employees,” McCoy said. “The latest increase was a result of an arbitration process and not a result of negotiations.”


County committee approves tax changes

LIHUE – A Kauai County Council committee has approved a measure to change the county’s property tax system.

The county Finance Committee approved the measure 3-2, and the full seven-member county council will consider the tax revision next week.

“This bill is about fairness,” finance director Steve Hunt said. “It goes back to the principle of ad valorem taxes and is based on the value of the property.”

A change in the law this year divided taxpayer classes by use rather than zoning. Some taxpayers were surprised to find homestead rates, $3.05 per $1,000 of assessed value, changed to commercial rates at $8 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Hunt said the administrators looked at how owners of property with similar assessments could be paying different rates.

Bill 2495 would eliminate a cap on property taxes that has protected some resident homeowners from climbing real estate values. Elimination of the cap, he said, will be offset by more tax exemptions.