LIHUE — Several County of Kauai department heads say they will seek pay raises for themselves and other higher-ranking employees.
They say the raises will bring the county’s salary scale up to par with other counties and match the worth of their growing responsibilities.
Those proposals, submitted to county Salary Commissioners by the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, Kauai Police Department and Department of Personnel Services, call for pay raises that, in some cases, represent the first increases paid out to top department personnel since 2009.
County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar said he is asking salary commissioners to raise the maximum salaries for First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Takata and the county’s nine deputy prosecuting attorneys. The pay for deputy prosecuting attorneys, according to county Salary Commission documents, is capped at $101,066 and has not been raised since 2009.
Takata, meanwhile, earns an annual salary of $105,660. His salary has not been raised since 2009, either.
The raises proposed by Kollar would bump Takata’s pay to $114,353 — an 8 percent increase — and slightly increase the maximum salary limit for deputy prosecuting attorneys by 3 percent to $104,585.
Kollar acknowledged he is seeking a 10 percent raise in his salary from $114,848 to $127,059.
“Essentially, it boils down to the fact that for us to be able to hire and retain the necessary staff to protect our community, I need to be able to compensate them in line with what the other counties are offering,” he said.
The raises he’s proposing, Kollar said, are in line with those paid by Maui County to its Department of the Prosecuting Attorney. He said Maui is the county that is most comparable to Kauai in terms of office size, workload and geographical area.
The proposed raises, he added, “would affect very few employees and would affect our budget by less than one-tenth of 1 percent.”
The county recently approved its $180 million fiscal year 2014-2015 budget, which included some tax and fee increases and roughly $4 million in increases for county employees. Around the same time officials were carving their fiscal plan, Fitch Ratings, a global credit rating agency, downgraded the County of Kauai’s long-term credit grade, citing consistent rises in expenses, stagnant growths in revenues and waning balances in county reserve funds.
“If we cannot offer what the other counties can offer, then the effect could be a negative impact to our ability to recruit and retain the best attorneys,” Kollar said. “Our attorneys are law enforcement officers who are on the front lines of the fight to keep our community safe and healthy, and we need to be able to attract — and keep — top-quality talent. This is a moderate and reasonable step for us to be able to do that.”
The Salary Commission will take up the measure at its next meeting in August. If approved there, it would go into effect although the County Council has the authority to step in and veto or amend the approved measure.
Another raise that is also on the table is one for the county director of personnel services, who was paid $77,280 during the 2013-2014 fiscal year, according to county budget documents.
No specific salary requirements were outlined in the request, which was sent by the county’s Civil Service Commission, a county board tasked with advising Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and the director of personnel services.
Deputy Personnel Services Director Thomas Takatsuki is serving as the interim director.
Civil Service Commission Vice Chair Roy Morita said the raise is necessary to accommodate the growing number of responsibilities being consolidated into the Department of Personnel Services — a process that began in 2012. A raise, he added, would also help civil service commissioners in their search for a new department head.
The Department of Personnel Services, Morita said, is transitioning into a Human Resources Department to include training, conflict resolution, workers’ compensation, employee benefits, workplace health and safety and workforce planning.
County payroll functions, he added, were also transferred over to the department on July 1.
“The Civil Service Commission believes that the Director of Personnel Services deserves a salary increase to the level of other top executives or directors in the county,” Morita wrote in a letter to the Salary Commission. “The county employs over 1,200 civil service, exempt, contract and hourly, and now with centralizing the human resources functions, the Department of Personnel Services are essentially responsible for implementing and fulfilling these services to each employee.”