Possible pay adjustments for mayor, council deferred

Maui’s council members, chair are highest paid in state

Joe Kent, vice president of research for the conservative-leaning Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, testified before the county Salary Commission meeting on possible salary adjustments for the mayor and County Council members on Friday morning at the Kalana O Maui building in Wailuku. Kent, of Honolulu, submitted data to the panel showing that Hawaii's county workers are highest paid in nation on average, and highlighted that salaries for Maui County Council members are the highest in the state. -- The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

WAILUKU — The county Salary Commission deferred action on possible salary adjustments for the mayor and County Council members during its meeting Friday, saying it wanted more time to consider public testimony and solicit additional information.

The action comes on the heels of a failed commission motion Feb. 8 for a 3 percent council member pay raise. In December, the panel approved a 3 percent cost-of-living increase for county directors and deputy directors. Those raises went into effect Jan. 1.

Maui County Council members are the highest paid in the state at $76,475, followed by Honolulu City and County, $64,008; Kauai County, $56,781; and Hawaii County, $52,008.

Maui’s council chair is also the highest paid in the state at a salary of $82,225. Honolulu City and County pays $71,520; Kauai County, $63,879; and Hawaii County, $58,008.

Honolulu City and County mayor is paid $173,184; Maui County mayor receives $151,979; and Hawaii County and Kauai County mayors each earn $132,000.

The salaries are from fiscal year 2019, which began July 1.

Four public testifiers attended Friday’s meeting; half spoke in favor of increases and half sought decreases.

“The council members work hard,” said Artemio C. Baxa of Makawao, a retired Circuit Court judge. “As public officials, they get called during any time of the day or night. They deserve the pay increase.”

Joshua Dean of Lahaina, president and owner of West Maui Construction, said when pay is too high and monetary benefit is a motivator, quality is lost.

“Paying them a lot less” would attract people with the right motives, he said. “The goal is not to survive, not to be successful, but to be useful.”

Commissioner Clark Abbott said he was moved by the testimony and suggested deferring action so he can process what was said and research more.

Commission Vice Chair Kelly Swanson said she would like to hear testimony from past and current council members.

The panel will revisit possible salary adjustments at its next meeting, which is open to the public, at 8:30 a.m. April 12 in the Mayor’s Conference Room, Kalana O Maui county building, Wailuku.

Calculating the 3 percent cost-of-living increases for county directors and deputy directors, salaries are now the following (with previous pay in parentheses):

• Managing director, $145,798 ($141,551); deputy director, $131,218 ($127,396)

• Corporation counsel, $146,575 ($142,306); first deputy, $139,246 ($135,190)

• County auditor, $134,971 ($131,040)

• Environmental Management director, $143,409 ($139,232); deputy director, $129,069 ($125,310)

• Finance director, $135,052 ($131,118); deputy director, $121,546 ($118,006)

• Fire and Public Safety chief, $155,736 ($151,200); deputy chief, $147,949 ($143,640)

• Housing and Human Concerns director, $131,602 ($127,769); deputy director, $118,442 ($114,992)

• Liquor Control director, $136,405 ($132,432); deputy director, $122,764 ($119,188)

• Parks and Recreation director, $132,398 ($128,542); deputy director, $119,159 ($115,688)

• Personnel Services director, $131,337 ($127,512); deputy director, $118,203 ($114,760)

• Planning director, $134,654 ($130,732); deputy director, $121,189 ($117,659)

• Police chief, $155,736 ($151,200); deputy chief, $147,949 ($143,640)

• Prosecuting attorney, $146,575 ($142,306); first deputy, $139,246 ($135,190)

• Public Works director, $143,409 ($139,232); deputy director $129,069 ($125,310)

• Transportation director, $123,908 ($120,299); deputy director, $111,517 ($108,269)

• Water director, $139,961 ($135,884); deputy director, $124,927 ($121,288)

The directors and deputy directors last received salary increases in 2017, with a 12 percent spike from the previous rate.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.


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