Kauai mayor seeking 14.1By Anthony Sommer
percent raise for herself,
LIHUE -- Mayor Maryanne Kusaka's request for a 14.1 percent pay hike for herself and her Cabinet garnered a lukewarm response from the Kauai County Council yesterday.
The panel voted 6-1 to send the measure to a public hearing but not one of the members promised support beyond that. One, Gary Hooser, voted against the raise saying the matter should be included in next year's budget.
The mayor -- who requested and received property tax increases totaling 18 percent on residential property over the past two years -- did not claim she or her department heads or their deputies had earned more pay on the basis of performance.
Instead, in her request to the Council, she argued that over the past four years county employees who belong to unions received pay increases of about 10.5 percent while she and her appointed officials have had no raises at all.
"These increases were recommended to allow county officers to catch up with tenured civil service employees who received regular pay increases collectively bargained by their respective unions," Kusaka wrote the Council.
Her staff conceded there is nothing in the County Charter or Hawaii Constitution that requires the pay of the mayor or her appointed department heads to keep pace with civil service employees.
All of the department heads and their deputies serve at the pleasure of the mayor.
Most of those now in office campaigned heavily for her re-election last year.
She also cited a 1994 Salary Review Commission recommendation that recommended 4.5 percent increases for her and her appointees for the next four consecutive years. The County Council granted only one of those raises.
A check with the Big Island, the county most comparable in population to Kauai, shows the mayor there currently receives $78,564. Personnel Director Mike Berg said there have been no pay increases since 1995, none is pending and the Hawaii County Council has shot down every administration request in the past five years.
Kusaka is paid $73,118 and is asking for $83,439.
All department heads on the Big Island are paid $69,732, except the Water Department manager, who gets $75,000.
On Kauai they receive an almost identical $69,731 and are asking to be paid $79,401.
Council Chairman Ron Kouchi said a public hearing likely will be scheduled for late this month with a vote in late November or early December.