pay is tops
The salary increases to $51,000
retroactively, giving members
the highest pay of any council
WAILUKU » It pays more to be a Council member on Maui than any other county in the state, including Honolulu -- and the gap is widening.
Maui County Council members will be getting $3,500 in retroactive pay for this year and a 19.3 percent salary increase effective next July 1.
The Maui Salary Commission voted on Friday to raise the Council's annual pay in two steps: $51,000 retroactive to last July 1, and $52,500 effective July 1, 2005.
The Council chairman's yearly pay would be $5,000 higher than other members.
Council members, who are regarded as part-time workers and may have an outside job, had been receiving $44,000 annually and the Council chairman, $48,000.
The annual salary for Honolulu City Council members is $43,350 and their chairman's, $48,450; Kauai Council, $33,400, and its chairman $37,600; and the Big Island Council, $39,240 and its chairman, $43,574, with a 2.5-percent increase for each re-election effective 2007.
On Maui, the commission's study panel had supported a salary increase between $65,000 and $85,000, partially based on its finding that the annual household income on Maui was about $60,000 annually.
But most study panel members were absent mainly because of vacation or emergency leave on Friday, leaving the nine-member commission with a bare five-member quorum and a more conservative bent.
Commissioner Anthony Lemmo, disagreeing with the study panel, said he felt the pay increases should be close to 3 percent or less annually and considered an annual increase of 5 percent too high.
Lemmo said business people do not generally get 5 percent raises a year. "The economy doesn't allow for 4 to 5 percent on an annual basis," he said.
Lemmo said his own research found the median family income on Maui was closer to $49,000.
Commissioner Curtis Franks said he felt raising the Council's annual salaries to $50,000 would be a "good increase."
Acting Commission Chair Douglas Levin, a member of the study panel, said he felt Maui Council members deserved significantly higher salaries than suggested by Lemmo and Franks.
"To be honest with you, I'm just a bit frustrated," Levin said. "I believe what they do for the county is so critically important."
Levin agreed to a compromise, after receiving assurances the commission next year would consider raising the council's salaries.
Councilwoman Charmaine Tavares said she felt commissioners were moving in the right direction, although she had hoped for a decision with a higher salary figure.
Tavares said she didn't think it was appropriate to compare council salaries of other counties with the pay of the Council on Maui, because the duties were different.
"That's apples and beef as far as I'm concerned," Tavares said.
Tavares said Maui Council members field neighborhood problems, whereas the Honolulu City Council has neighborhood boards to handle community-level problems.
Tavares, who has served nearly eight years on the Council, said she spent an average of about 50 hours a week at her elected job and doesn't believe it should be regarded as part-time.
She said she'll be looking at changing the Maui County Charter to define the Council's duties as full time.
County of Maui