Council divided on raises

  • Ryan Collins / The Garden Island

    Councilman Kipukai Kuali’i expresses opposition to a resolution for raises for 37 elected officials, department heads and council members, Wednesday in the Lihue Historic County Building council chambers.

LIHUE — Kauai County Council members deliberated on the prospect of increasing the pay for some county officials, including themselves, for nearly two hours before deferring a vote until the April 10 meeting.

Councilman Arthur Brun was not in attendance for the meeting Wednesday morning for personal reasons. Brun’s absence left the council with six members discussing the possibility of giving raises to 37 elected officials and department heads.

Council members were split on the issue.

“We need to show our people that we’re operating officially and tightly as possible,” said KipuKai Kuali‘i. “How can we be giving raises right now — big raises, to the top positions? It would be absurd. The people would go crazy.”

Councilman Luke Evslin had another view.

“Our motive here is not to necessarily save money — there’s no profit margin for us to look at,” he said. “How do we measure an effective police chief, whose training methods and management results in him putting out a fire quicker and saving somebody’s possessions. We can’t measure that on a financial statement.”

The proposed resolution was split into three parts.

The first covers the mayor’s salary along with 14 other positions that range from the county auditor to the county clerk.

Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami’s salary would increase from $132,000 to $142,062.

The second is comprised of 15 positions ranging from the police chief to the county engineer. The police and fire chief salaries would both go to $137,022 from 127,313.

“Part two is the one that stands out to me as the one that needs the most attention because of the county engineer and because of the inversion issues that we are facing with our health, safety and emergency response departments,” Councilman Mason Chock said. “So that one sits as my priority, as the one I would like to see supported moving forward.”

The third part of the resolution calls for an increase in the council members’ pay, which would go to $67,956, while the council chair would receive $76,452.

The proposition of the raises was presented to the council by Managing Director Michael Dahilig, who is up for an 11.8 percent raise, and two members of the county salary commission, which approved the proposal at its March 7 meeting.

Council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa said the proposal for raises was “poor timing.”

“We haven’t even done the budget. We’re picking up a big ticket item before we even talk about the budget,” he said. “This administration has just started. They just started, and they have no vacancies, zero. Every position, and we want to give them big increases?”

The combined average annual salary for all county officials on the list, except council members, is slightly over $115,000.

The vast majority of the proposed raises — which, if approved, would take effect July 1 — are 7.6 percent, although a handful of officials are in line for larger jumps in pay.

Resolution 2019-1 calls for a 14.8-percent increase in the salaries for the following positions: County engineer for public works, which is currently vacant; County Attorney Matthew Bracken; Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar and the manager and chief engineer for the Department of Water, Bryan Weinand.

Those percentages translate to an average increase of about $10,000. All told, the proposal would cost taxpayers an extra $316,586. The most recent pay raise for these positions was in 2016.

Because of Brun’s absence, Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro suggested that if the vote was split 3-3, the council defer the decision until all seven council members were present. The resolution faces a 60-day deadline and must be approved no later than May 6 in order for the pay raises in the first two parts of the bill to go into effect by July 1. Part three of the resolution would go into effect Dec. 1.

“This is one of the only votes that we take where a minority vote can pass it,” Kaneshiro said. “We have one council member out, so it makes any decision even more difficult.”

Kaneshiro asked the council members to state how they would vote on the resolution, so they could be clear on whether there was a split in the vote and see if Brun’s vote would be needed. If the council had decided to take a vote at the Wednesday meeting, a two-vote minority would have passed the resolution.

Kagawa, Kaneshiro, and Kuali’i indicated that they would vote no on the resolution. Chock, Evslin and Felicia Cowden indicated that they would vote in favor of the raises. The split vote led to further consideration on the subject, requiring a full council to vote later.

“I will not be voting for this resolution today,” Kaneshiro said. “I do appreciate everything the salary commission has brought, and I completely understand everything that they did, and I actually agree with what they did — the increases that they did. For me, the problem is the timing, the timing of this. I really do have a problem with doing this increase when the department heads have only been in office for six months.”


Ryan Collins, county reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or

  1. I saw a Vampire once March 28, 2019 4:19 pm Reply

    What’s up? I only represent poor people. I think we know who the politicians are. Suck and bogus story.

  2. Uncleaina March 28, 2019 7:10 pm Reply

    Soo disappointing to see these freshmen council members already decide they need a raise! For what, may I ask? Showing up to maybe 5 meetings? Wow! Congrats! Job well done! “Mission Accomplished” – just like George Bush. Maybe we should give them participation awards too? Great job sitting there guys, time for a fat raise. You’ve raised our taxes, made absolutely zero contributions to our county thus far, and yet you want more money? Luke and Felicia should be ashamed. I’m sad that I had confidence in you yet you’re proving to be even worse than those you replaced. No raise! Get it? Make our budget, fix our roads, do some actual governing for a couple years before you decide to vote yourself a raise. Or, go ahead and give yourself the raise and enjoy your brief time as a council member because the public hates stuff like this. Choose wisely.

  3. Larry March 28, 2019 7:40 pm Reply

    Are u out your minds?
    U guys work for us……the taxpayers and we all taking pay cuts in the form of increased cost of living. How much again 100 and something thousand……both partys suck

  4. drsurf March 28, 2019 8:15 pm Reply

    Spending other peoples money sure is easy. When the roads and park rest rooms are A#1 then mayve raises in order.

  5. Charlie Chimknee March 28, 2019 10:31 pm Reply

    Aloha Kakou…

    …and your constituents are making $10.10 an hour…?

    Part of everyone’s pay is the benefit of living on Kaua’i…reduce gov’t paychecks by that valuable benefit and forget the raise.

    And Evslin says it’s not about saving just spend the little money that cannot even fix roads, broken cars, etc., and he thinks the police chief is supposed to put out the fires to save peoples’ belongings never mind if someone burns to death. Police? Fires? Slight mistake,eh…?

    And Cowden and Evslin only on the job a few months and they want a raise already and have done or accomplished nothing for the island. Unashamed Arrogance.

    The new mayor has left the same people in charge as the old mayor, and we still have so many problems especially lacking of funds for the big and little problems, and raising taxes on every person on island in one or more ways.

    Traffic, housing , crime, drugs, suicide is not going away by raising your wages. Are these people being honest with us.

    Whatever happened to Public Servants. Shibai.


  6. GETit March 28, 2019 10:43 pm Reply

    GET while you can!

    I guess we all know the real reason for the GET increase. The county of Kauai’s budget is 80% allocated to personnel’s salaries. Can any business owner tell me if their business operated on those numbers, would their business strive and survive?

    I knew that the triple taxation on roads and highways was all a fraudulent scam by the county and state. Not even 100 days into the new year and the increase in general excise tax and the county is already spending money that was targeted for line item expenses. I guess the over taxation is starting to grow the counties savings account and to hide that scheme, the county has to spend the money. Remember the faux furlough 10 years ago when the county of Kauai had 60 million dollars surplus and the date was broke so the Mayor’s collided with the state of Hawaii to shutdown?

    Dahilig is good for nothing failed in the planning Dept incompetent for over 10 years collecting county overpaid welfare checks that he doesn’t deserve.

    Nepotism and greed in the county of Kauai is the great tragedy. People on the island suffering and these guys has been audited 5 times and those audits have shown gross mismanagement and possible criminal actions occurring like the missing million dollars from the previous admin that was just siphoned from another Dept’s account.

    The county of Kauai gave these same positions over 10% raises just last year. The people have to demand a stop to this bill. How can they legitimately say they deserve a raise after only 100 days and the audit that proved the fire and police overtime went through tens of millions of mismanagement dollars last year alone.

    This is the insane institution that Kauai fosters to every year with regards with these do nothing good for nothing but steal money politicians.

  7. EvslinOblivious March 28, 2019 10:56 pm Reply

    Evslin Oblivious!

    Councilman Luke Evslin had another view.

    “Our motive here is not to necessarily save money — there’s no profit margin for us to look at,” he said. “How do we measure an effective police chief, whose training methods and management results in him putting out a fire quicker and saving somebody’s possessions. We can’t measure that on a financial statement.”

    Did that just came out a newly elected county councils mouth? Wow Kauai can pick the best crap ever.

    Has he ever heard of a surplus that measures expenditures compared to over taxation?

    Does he know or any of these county employees know what these first responders do the rest of the time they arent putting out a fire or responding to emergency calls?

    I cannot believe how ignorant these people are or is it just pure greed that’s coming out of their mouths.

    It’s just inconceivable how these buffoons spend money that isn’t theirs. How can you justify a salary increase when news about improper budgets and payroll issues are a continues to be a major problem at the county and state levels.

    This is a slap and spit in the face to the people of Kauai.

  8. Uncleaina March 29, 2019 10:45 pm Reply

    I’m not sure why, but this article disappeared from today’s online edition (it’s 10:45 pm Friday). Not disappeared *completely* because obviously I’m commenting. But I could only find this article by doing a seach: it wasn’t listed “local news” or in most popular etc. for the past couple days. I’m pretty sure this article would also be in the “most popular” category, so I find it a bit odd. Perhaps a glitch or something or who knows?

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