HONOLULU (KHON2) — A 60% salary increase for Honolulu City Council Members and its Chair, recommended by the salary commission, is renewing interest in the process. 

Honolulu is the only county left where council members can deny a recommendation by the commission. Kauai had a similar process, but voters amended the county charter last year. 

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The Kauai County Council Chair Mel Rapozo said this removes any conflict of interest. 

Rapozo said, “Completely removes the county council from voting on salaries that may impact them in a future term.”

Although last year, Kauai county councilors affirmed three increases of 5% over a period of time, The first increase took effect Jan. 1, 2023. Another 5% increase is scheduled to take effect in July and a final one in July 2024. 

As it stands, Maui council members and chair are the highest earners, followed by Kauai, Hawaii County and lastly Honolulu. 

Councilor salaries as of March 2023

The Maui County Salary Commission approved a 5% increase for the elected officials last year. Maui County Council Chair Alice Lee said that is being revisited this year by the commission. 

“Our salary commission plans to review it this year,” Lee said. “And, not necessarily to increase it but to ascertain whether it should remain the same or be decreased.”

Maui’s salary commission did not respond to KHON2 News’s request for comment. But, Lee said their salary is fair. 

Lee said, “It’s no different with council members and the mayor and administrators. You want to invite people or attract people who are competent, or educated, who are experienced.”

The Hawaii County charter also gives the salary commission the sole authority to approve salary increases and decreases; the last time they saw a pay bump was in 2018. 

As for Honolulu, council members can deny the commission’s recommendations. Honolulu Councilmember Augie Tulba said he is torn but is leaning towards a no. 

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Tulba said, “I want people to come out and testify. I want to hear what you have to say; but most importantly, I want people to keep us accountable.”

A final recommendation will be given to the city council members in May.