Mayor opposes full raises for some city workers, including one for himself

Updated: Mar. 21, 2017 at 6:01 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A proposal that would increase how much Honolulu's mayor and other top-level city officials get paid ran into opposition Tuesday, including from the mayor himself.

The city's salary commission is considering a five-percent raise for Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the members of his cabinet, as well as for Honolulu's fire chief, police chief and prosecutor.

Critics believe Caldwell should not be given a raise until the city's rail budget is finalized. A recent study by the Ulupono Initiative, a pro-rail investment firm, suggested that the project faces a $2 billion funding gap.

"That is malfeasance, and you are giving him a five-percent pay increase," said David Smith, a retired engineer.

Rather than the full 5 percent raise, Caldwell's chief of staff suggested a cost-of-living raise of around 2 percent – though it wasn't because he felt the city's employees were undeserving.

"There is very little argument that the cabinet is underpaid when compared to their counterparts in the private sector," said Ray Soon. "They work awfully hard."

Caldwell's office also noted that a significant raise for top-level employees would make it difficult to complete contract negotiations for other city employees.

"The feeling is that a five-percent increase is somewhat inconsistent with how strongly we have been trying to hold the wage line with the public unions," Soon said.

The salary commission will have several more meetings before making a final decision.

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