(BIVN) – Salary Commission Chairman Hugh Ono gave a presentation to the Hawai‘i County Council Finance Committee on Tuesday in Kona, explaining how large – and highly criticized – raises for county administrators and elected officials were recently approved.
Some directors saw raises as high as 39.7 percent, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.
Mayor Harry Kim and the County Council – who at this moment are considering enacting a general excise tax surcharge for county transportation and mass transit projects – also received pay raises, putting the lawmakers in an awkward position.
Ono told the council the raises were approved by the nine member commission in order to correct a “long-standing deficiency” in the way the county compensates its directors. The Salary Commission is appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the council.
The Salary Commission’s decision, made without Hawai‘i County Council oversight, evoked a strong reaction. Hilo councilmember Sue Lee Loy even introduced a charter amendment that would give the public more time to comment on future Salary Commission proposals. Presently, the Hawai‘i County Charter grants the commission the sole authority to “review and compensate all county elected officials and appointed directors and their deputy directors so that their total salaries and benefits have a reasonable relationship to compensation in the public and private sectors,” Lee Loy stated.
At today’s Finance Committee meeting, the council also approved the reappointment of George Campbell and Nelson H. Harano to the Salary Commission.