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Council Member Introduces Amendment Regarding Hawai‘i County Salaries 

January 12, 2018, 3:20 PM HST (Updated January 15, 2018, 11:19 AM)
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Hawai‘i County Councilmember Sue Lee Loy introduced a charter amendment on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, that would give the public more time to comment on the Salary Commission’s proposed pay raises for top county officials.

The Salary Commission comprises nine community members appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the council for a five-year term. The Hawai‘i County Charter grants the commission the sole authority to “review and compensate all county elected officials and appointed directors and their deputy directors so that their total salaries and benefits have a reasonable relationship to compensation in the public and private sectors.”

Lee Loy’s proposed amendment slows down the approval process to provide safeguards for the public by requiring, at least 30 days prior to the approval of any salary adjustment: 1) public notice of the proposals in at least two daily newspapers in the county; 2) at least two public hearings—one in East Hawai‘i and one in West Hawai‘i; and 3) a “detailed report” of how the commission reached its recommendations, which would be open for public inspection.

In addition, any proposed increase or decrease of more than 10% would be subject to a two-thirds affirmative vote of the entire membership of the commission.

If approved, this amendment would shed light on the decision-making process used to determine the salaries of officials covered by the Salary Commission, and invite deeper public participation and scrutiny.

The bill is anticipated to appear on a committee agenda on Feb. 6, 2018. It would then require three affirmative votes by the council before being placed on the November 2018 ballot for approval.

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