HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Several city councilmembers say the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit - or HART - isn't being as transparent as it should about staffing, job descriptions, and salaries. HART recently released information on 59 of its employees - hired through July 22nd - who are currently working at its offices.
Hawaii News Now took a closer look at the document sent to the council - to see if some councilmembers' concerns about Honolulu's rail project are being addressed. HART's five page document includes the names, titles, education, and experience of nine civil service and 50 contract employees. City councilmembers Ann Kobayashi, Romy Cachola, and Tom Berg - all critics of the rail project - requested the updated information. They were also looking for a specific breakdown of each employee's salary - which wasn't included.
"I understand some of the salaries are over 100 thousand, so that's why we kind of wanted to know how much is being spent. This is taxpayers' money," says Kobayashi.
HART did include a sum total of the salaries - about $3,670,000. The average salary was about $62,000. HART says the councilmembers did not specifically ask for a financial breakdown of each position in their request, but the transit authority will try to get that information.
HART spokesman, Scott Ishikawa, says, "Some Department of Human Resources' policy, they may have had privacy concerns. But we'll work with the city's Department of Human Resources to determine what part of the city salary information we can release, and we'll try to provide what we can."
HART is not required to release employees' salaries, but Kobayashi says, since this is the state's largest public works project ever, she'd like to know where the money's spent. "They keep telling us that everything is going to be very transparent, and we'll get to know all the facts and figures, etc., so we're trying to get those facts and figures for our constituents and taxpayers."
Councilmember Cachola also raised concerns about the number of HART employees. The document lists 59, but Cachola says he thinks the number is closer to 70. HART says the list it sent over includes civil servants and service contractors who are on the city payroll. Ishikawa adds, "So, we may have other staff that are consultants as part of the project, but the list that was requested was for city staff only."
HART has budgeted $9.3 million for salaries and has plans for up to 136 employees. Its staff includes engineers, architects, financial analysts, information specialists, and more. Their main role is oversight of the nearly five-and-a-half billion dollar rail project.