Correction: A previous version of this story had an incorrect date The story has been corrected.
HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Honolulu City Council unanimously approved a resolution directing the city’s auditor to look into the hiring practices of the human resources department. The city council is looking for answers as to why thousands of city positions remain unfilled.
More than 3,000 city and county positions remain unfilled according to a human resources report from May.
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Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters said it is putting a strain on city services and its employees.
Waters said, “I think our city employees are working really, really hard. And they’re doing their best. But they’re probably asked to do the job of two or three people, which isn’t fair to them. It isn’t fair to the taxpayer.”
City Auditor Arushi Kumar said the audit started this week, and they have a year to present their findings to the city council.
“We may request in the coming weeks could be vacancy reports from the last few years,” Kumar said. “We may also request either administrative rules or state and city rules that are applicable to hiring and selection processes.”
Some of the departments with a high number of vacancies include the Honolulu police, environment services, facility maintenance and the fire department.
In a statement, the Department of Environmental Services tells KHON2 News employees have been working overtime.
“Due to high vacancy rates in certain positions, ENV often relies on paying workers overtime to ensure essential city services such as trash collection, sewer maintenance, and wastewater treatment operations continue uninterrupted. However, overtime is voluntary, and we cannot and should not rely on it as a permanent solution, which is why ENV works continuously to fill its vacant positions.”Department of Environmental Services
The City’s planning and permitting director said the vacancy rate for its permit issuance branch at times exceeds 50% when sick leave and vacations are factored in, this causes permit applications to back up.
Meanwhile, Mayor Rick Blangiardi said vacant positions have been a priority since taking office.
“Streamlining hiring practices and filling vacancies across the City workforce are priorities of our administration that predate anything requested by the Honolulu City Council,” Blangiardi said. “We have been working on this diligently since we came into office, and in the spirit of doing everything we possibly can to live up to the responsibilities we have to the residents of O’ahu, we welcome the audit and any findings that help improve the strength of our workforce.”
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The Honolulu Police Department said it is working to fill its 357 officer vacancies and 190 civilian positions.
The department will be hosting a women’s recruitment session on Saturday, July 23, at Aloha Tower Market Place.