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Council members postpone salary decision

LIHU’E – The Kaua’i County Salary Commission yesterday postponed any decision

on a proposed salary increase for the County Council until Aug. 22.

The

council is discussing a measure this afternoon that would provide raises for

other county officials, but council members can’t give themselves a raise.

That’s where the Salary Commission comes in.

Per the county charter, the

commission recommends salaries for all other elected officials and employees

but actually sets the pay for council members.

Any council pay raise deemed

fair by the commission and approved by the council would not take effect until

after this fall’s election, because legally the council cannot give itself a

raise.

As part of its preliminary investigation, the salary commission

heard from council chairman Ron Kouchi Tuesday morning.

Kouchi, who

currently makes $31,936 (the other six council members make $28,744), said the

number of hours council members work far exceeds the two meetings mandated per

month by the charter.

“We get requests to look at bus stops, placement and

removals, pot holes, rezoning,” he said, all of which “fall under the category

of field trips.You set appointments in your office and people drop by your

house. There are (unofficial) meetings in the grocery store, meetings at the

restaurant, people stop your dinner, meetings at the bon dance.”

Kouchi

added that being a council member has no real set hours.

“It’s like

commission work. You can work literally every hour of the day at this job,” he

said.

Kouchi said the fact that all the council’s meetings are televised

via cable television islandwide assures that each council member came to the

meetings prepared.

“When people get elected, the last thing they want to do

is embarrass themselves. There are television cameras at all our meetings. We

want to be up to speed,” Kouchi explained.

Kouchi said he tries to stay

available to his constituents.

“I list my residential phone number in the

phone book. So if they want to find me, I don’t make it hard,” he

said.

Before the matter was tabled until Aug. 22, commission member Barry

Hubbard commented that the job of council member is mislabeled.

“I don’t

think part-time is an accurate label” for what they do, Hubbard said.

The commission, as mandated by charter, is composed of three members appointed

by the council, three members appointed by the mayor and one member appointed

by the other six commissioners.

Staff writer Dennis Wilken can be

reached at 245-3681 (ext.252) and [

HREF=”mailto:dwilken@pulitzer.net”>dwilken@pulitzer.net]

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