HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu City Council members are on the brink of receiving a 60% pay increase which was initially recommended by the Honolulu Salary Commission.
The main argument that has supported the pay increase is that a Council seat is a full-time job.
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But if that’s the case, should council members be allowed to have other jobs while in office? This is the question that is flanking the pay increase.
Council members could see their salaries jump from nearly $70,000 to $113,000. The council chair’s salary would jump to $123,000.
Council member Augie Tulba said if he gets that raise, then he plans to give it back to the City’s general fund or buy something that will help residents in his district.
“We’re taking money off the back of everyday people working class people, and I am aware of that. And I want to make sure that the money is being used correctly,” said Tulba.
Council members who testified in favor of the raise say they should get full-time pay. Most of them do have other part-time jobs. In financial disclosure forms, Chair Tommy Waters said he earned between $50,000 to less than $100,000 last year as an attorney.
Esther Kiaaina declared the same pay range for consultant services. So, should they drop their other job if they get the raise?
“I certainly would be looking at that because really I only want to do one job, and I want to do this job the best possible,” said Council Chair Tommy Waters.
Waters says he can’t speak for other members but in order to make it a requirement, it would have to be put on the ballot as a charter amendment.
“I would love to put that on the ballot and let the people decide,” he said.
Waters adds that the pay raise should also attract more qualified candidates to run for office.
Ann Kobayashi, who spent 17 years at City Council, disagrees. She says she would vote against the raise because there are too many people struggling.
“You run for public office, you know what the salary is, you know what the hours are, and you do the best you can and the public service. The point is not to get in there and try to change the salary,” said Kobayashi.
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A resolution will have to be introduced by a council member to reject the pay raise. Then, it will come to a vote. Otherwise, it will automatically be approved and take effect on July 1.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated a councilmember worked another job. The correction has been made in the text.