Wednesday | August 24, 2016
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Raises sought for officials

The county Salary Commission has pay hikes in store for county officials who didn’t get raises last year, including the next mayor and County Council.

The Salary Commission unveiled its draft salary schedule Thursday, with plans to take public comment at an April 28 meeting before voting on a final plan. The meeting will be held at 10 a.m. in County Council chambers in Hilo.

“We did do a very comprehensive analysis of the positions,” said Commissioner Marcella Stroh, who led a subcommittee to study salaries.

Stroh said the subcommittee took into account the county budget, the salaries of subordinates and salaries in comparable counties.

Because Mayor Billy Kenoi has repeatedly said he’d refuse a raise, raises for that position as well as the managing director and deputy managing director wouldn’t go into effect until December 2016, when a new mayor takes office.

The mayor’s salary would increase by $21,666, a 19.8 percent raises, to $130,818. The managing director’s would increase $6,300, or 6.1 percent, to $110,244. The deputy managing director would increase $5,732, or 5.8 percent, to $104,736.

Council members would get an 8.3 percent raise, increasing their pay by $4,000 annually to $52,000. The council chairman would make $58,000 a year, up $6,000 annually, or 11.5 percent. Those raises wouldn’t go into effect until the new council session starting in December.

The raises would add $56,472 to the county budget next year, and $90,178 after 2016. That follows the $162,048 the commission added in raises for this year.

Chief Deputy Corporation Counsel Joe Kamelamela, who took personal leave to address the commission, was there to ask for raises for deputy corporation counsel attorneys, one of the few classes of employees who haven’t seen pay hikes. The county code caps their raises at no more than 90 percent of that of the corporation counsel or the prosecuting attorney, whichever is higher. But even with an increase from $99,000 to $110,244 for corporation counsel this year, the deputies are at their cap, he said.

“What we have seen recently, all the other employees in the county have gotten 4 percent raises,” Kamelamela said.

He said one of the county’s best litigators is likely to leave because of the low pay. Deputy corporation counsel attorneys currently make up to $99,240, according to salary schedules from the county Department of Finance.

Commissioners agreed to look into the situation, although Commissioner Brian DeLima, himself a private practice attorney, noted that attorneys in government aren’t there for the paycheck.

“They’ll never make as much as in private practice,” DeLima said.

The proposed pay plan also provides a 5 percent raise for the county clerk and legislative auditor, from $94,284 to $99,000.

Department heads that didn’t get raises last year will also see bumps in pay. The Salary Commission last year added from $10,218 to $17,598 to salaries of 12 top officials.

Most county employees not covered by union agreements received 4 percent raises last year; their first raises since 2008. The employees had actually taken salary cuts for two of those years in the form of unpaid furloughs.

Email Nancy Cook Lauer at


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