HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii County Salary Commission has not adjusted pay for executive, elected or appointed officials since March 2018. Meanwhile, employees covered by collective bargaining have received raises over the years.

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“A lot of the departments have inequitable situations where now some senior employees in departments are actually getting paid more than the deputy directors in some situations, and more than the director,” said Steven Pavao, Hawaii County Salary Commission Chair.

The Hawaii County Salary Commission is proposing pay raises for the Mayor, Managing Director, Department heads and County Councilmembers. The Commission found that there has been a 22.44% inflation change since 2018, calling it an unfair pay cut for these individuals. The Commission is proposing to increase pay by 22.44% starting Jan. 1, 2024.

“Addressing inflation and making sure their pay is at the right levels so they can continue to recruit and retain good staff for both the appointed and elected positions,” Pavao said.

The Commission is also suggesting another 5% increase July 1, 2024. The Mayor would be the highest paid at over $209,000, followed by the managing director and deputy managing director.

Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth’s office said:

“The work of the commission is done independently and we stand by whatever the recommendations of the commission are. Our directors work extremely hard and are deserving of competitive salaries that allow us to ensure we have the best of the best leading our departments.”

Others said, pay is not their priority.

“If they decide to pay me what they pay me now or if they pay me more or if they pay me less than it doesn’t bother me,” said Chief Todd Kazuo of the Hawaii Fire Department. “As long as I can stay in the position with the fire department regardless of what the salary is.”

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Testimony will be welcomed at a public meeting on Nov. 16. Another public meeting will be held in December, where the Salary Commission will likely make their final vote. Two-thirds of the commission need to approve the proposed salary raises.