WAILUKU - Five Maui County Council members have continued a practice of giving pay bonuses to office staff members, according to records released for the first three quarters of this fiscal year.
Council Members Danny Mateo, Gladys Baisa, Don Couch, Mike Victorino and Bob Carroll have approved "salary supplements" or bonuses of $11,950 to 13 staff members for the current fiscal year from July 1 to May 10, according to information provided this week by the Office of Council Services. (The current fiscal year ends June 30.)
The information was not available last week when The Maui News reported payments of salary supplements of $27,950 to 14 council executive assistants in fiscal 2010 and of $48,950 to 20 employees in fiscal 2011. Adding bonuses granted so far this fiscal year brings the total amount to $88,850 in payments since July 2009.
Couch, who holds the council's South Maui residency seat, gave salary supplements of $4,000 overall, $2,000 each to two full-time employees on Dec. 15.
These payments were on top of annualized salaries this fiscal year of $55,000 and $44,000, respectively, for the employees.
Couch and Council Member Elle Cochran did not provide employee bonuses in fiscal 2011, which included six months of their first term. Records show that Cochran, who holds the West Maui residency seat, still has not granted any bonuses.
Last week, when Couch was interviewed about the bonuses, he did not volunteer that he had paid $2,000 salary supplements to two of his staffers in December. When asked last week about the bonuses for other council members and why he had not given any in his first six months in office, Couch said that he was new in office and was getting the "lay of the land," although his employees had been working hard.
"We were still getting our feet wet," he said last week.
When asked if he would give bonuses to his staff this fiscal year, Couch said that he would give an increase in base salary rather than a bonus.
After newly released council records showed $2,000 in salary supplements to his two employees in the current fiscal year, Couch said Wednesday that there had been a "weird communication" with council administrators about his intent to increase the salary base pay for his employees after Jan. 1 when he had figured out how much he could afford to pay them in his office budget.
He said that his intent was to pay his two employees what they would have earned from July 1 to Dec. 31 if they had had the base pay increase he gave them at the beginning of this calendar year.
Couch said that he did not consider the payments "bonuses." It was "kind of like back pay," he said. He acknowledged that the payments showed up in council records as "salary supplements."
Couch said that from now on he will compensate his employees through their base pay only, not with salary supplements.
Council members, including Couch, have justified the bonuses to their employees by saying that they work long hours, do not receive overtime pay and don't have long-term job security as appointed executive assistants.
So far for the current fiscal year, council Chairman Mateo has provided pay bonuses of $2,250 to three employees - $1,000 each to two full-time employees earning annualized salaries of $51,500 and $48,400 and $250 to a three-quarter-time employee, who was terminated in January and had an annualized salary of nearly $17,000.
Baisa paid two employees $500 each on top of their annualized salaries of $55,000 and $50,000.
Victorino approved $3,200 in extra payments to four employees. Those included a supplemental payment of $1,250 to an employee earning an annualized salary of nearly $49,000. He paid a three-quarter-time employee $1,100 on top of an annualized salary of almost $36,700. He provided a half-time employee $600, in addition to an annualized salary of $20,800, and he approved a $250 payment to an employee earning $20 an hour, council records show.
Carroll provided $1,500 to two employees this fiscal year. He paid $1,000 to an employee earning an annualized salary of $55,000, and he provided $500 to a half-time staffer earning an annualized salary of $35,000.
In the current fiscal year, council records show no supplemental salary payments for the office staffs of Council Members Cochran, Mike White, Riki Hokama and Joe Pontanilla.
* Brian Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.