Commission’s plan would double salaries of City Council members

One council member has already said he won’t take the raise if it’s approved.
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 4:31 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 21, 2023 at 3:21 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A proposal that would nearly double the salaries of Honolulu City Council members is moving through the city Salary Commission ― and drawing a fair bit of eyebrow-raising.

One council member has already said he’s against the raise.

But others say they they work long hours and deserve full-time pay.

The commission is recommending a 12% raise for the mayor’s department heads and deputies.

But it’s pushing a plan that would nearly double City Council member salaries ― to more than $135,000.

“The commission seems to be justifying these huge raises based on the fact that City Council members are working a full-time job, but that’s not really coming from the City Charter,” said political analyst Colin Moore.

If you take a look at a typical Council calendar ― with a handful of meetings and one full Council meeting per month ― you can see why council members (like state lawmakers) are historically considered part-time.

Councilman Augie Tulba, whose first career is entertainment, says that’s what people want.

“They wanted lawmakers to work part-time ... to come in and bring the everyday citizens perspective in” he said.

A subcommittee of the commission has made three proposed new salaries: high, low and recommended middle ground. From the current $69,000, the high choice would be $185,000. The low choice was $113,000.

And the recommended salary was $135,900.

All assume full-time employment for councilmembers.

At a Jan. 25 hearing to confirm Salary Commission member Becky Soon, council members openly pushed for full-time compensation.

The final recommendation from the commission on all the raises would take effect automatically ― unless the council votes it down.

The public will have a chance to weigh in on the proposed salaries at the commission’s public hearing Tuesday afternoon at Honolulu Hale. Click here for the full agenda.