Hawaii County

Pay raises possible
for Big Isle officials

A panel will consider hikes of
up to $14,000 for 39 administrators

HILO >> The Hawaii County Salary Commission has agreed to consider double-digit pay raises for 39 jobs, including the mayor, prosecuting attorney and other top administrators.

Raises would be anywhere from $10,000 to $14,000 annually.

The volunteer panel agreed last week to consider the proposal, possibly by its Dec. 3 meeting, once it solicits reaction from county officials and island residents.

Chairman William Sanborn stressed that the wage plan is just a proposal from a four-member subcommittee created earlier this year.

"I understand the minute you put numbers out there, people think that it's etched in stone," he said.

The commission is considering paying some department heads more than others under a tiered system. Members ended such parity last year when they decided that police and fire chiefs and their deputies should earn more than counterparts who run other departments.

Top administrators last received raises of $5,800 a year on July 1, 2002. That marked the first time department heads' and their deputies' pay -- previously set by the County Council -- rose since 1997.

Under the Salary Commission's latest proposal, Mayor Harry Kim would earn $99,008 a year, about $13,928, or 16.4 percent, more than his current pay. That also would exceed Gov. Linda Lingle's $94,780 annual salary.

Other raises would include $14,000 a year each for Managing Director Dixie Kaetsu and Prosecutor Jay Kimura, each of whom now earns about $80,000 annually.

Commissioner Joel Nye, who cast the only vote against each of the raises that the commission approved dating back to last year, again criticized the latest proposal.

"This is setting up pretty substantial pay increases with no qualifications," he said. "This, to me, is an across-the-board pay increase."

He also noted that the proposal excludes possible pay cuts for poor performance. He also said the amounts seem arbitrary.

The Salary Commission agreed to hear from the affected employees and the public during a Nov. 5 meeting in Hilo. Commissioners plan to meet again on Nov. 21 to provide residents a chance to comment on the proposals.


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