Officials’ pay raises moving forward

LIHU’E — Mayor Maryanne Kusaka is among elected officials and appointed

department heads and deputies of Kaua’i County who are one step closer to a

higher salary after Wednesday’s County Council meeting.

The council gave

preliminary approval to the proposed raises by a vote of six to one, with

Councilman Gary Hooser the only nay sayer.

County clerk Peter Nakamura said

a date will be set for a public hearing on the proposed pay hikes that are

being recommended by the county Salary Commission.

The raises, according to

Bill 1951, can range from 1 to 10 percent.

For example, the current salary

for fire chief David Sproat is listed at $66,073. But if the bill becomes law,

Sproat’s salary range could become $69,400 to $77,400.

The exact same

figures would also apply for Nakamura.

Kusaka is making $73,118. Under the

proposed new salary scale, she would rise to $80,500.

Prosecuting

attorney Michael Soong, who is running unopposed this fall for re-election,

pulls down $69,371. That would jump to $77,400. Kusaka’s administrative

assistant, Wally Rezentes Sr., makes $70,193. He could go up to

$78,200.

County engineer Cesar Portugal is earning $69,371. His bump could

put him between $69,400 and $77,400.

The director of finance, Wally

Rezentes Jr., is earning the same salary as Portugal and is looking at the same

range for a raise, as is county attorney Hartwell Blake, also currently earning

$69,371.

Planning director Dee Crowell’s salary, also currently $69,371,

could increase to $77,400.

Allan Tanigawa, director of personnel services,

is now making $66,073. That could change to $69,400 to $77,400.

Hooser

explained his “no” vote by commenting on how many initial votes he and his

colleagues cast that they later reverse at the second (and final) reading of a

bill.

“I feel strongly that there is a certain value in remaining constant.

I want to acknowledge all the hard work of the Salary Commission, but I will be

voting no,” Hooser said.

His six fellow councilmembers went the other way.

On a related note, a public hearing generated no comment on Bill 1949,

which would amend Kaua`i County’s travel allowance per diem so that employees

with receipts could claim more than $35 per day in travel expenses.

That

bill was sent back to a council committee. It will be up for final passage at

the next council meeting Aug. 23. The Salary Commission is deciding what kind

of raise it will award the County Council. According to the county charter,

the council may set all county employees’ salaries except its own. Council

chairman Ron Kouchi stated emphatically that the council has no say over its

own salaries.

“The Salary Commission does that,” he said.Kouchi added that

five years ago, when council salaries were last boosted, he and some other

council members at the time gave the difference to charity.

Kouchi’s annual

salary is $31,936, while the other six council members are each paid

$28,744.

The Salary Commission will meet Aug. 22 to further discuss council

raises.

Staff writer Dennis Wilken can be reached at 245-3681 (ext.

252) or dwilken@pulitzer.net

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