Mahalo to the many citizens who have expressed their valued opinions on the maximum administrative salaries proposed by the independent, volunteer-based Salary Commission.
I would encourage those interested in the Commission’s reasoning and rationale to view the webcast of the March 27 County Council meeting, which can be found online at www.kauai.gov/webcast-meetings.
Having served on the council, I understand the difficulty of weighing an appropriate increase for department heads and leaders throughout our county government.
I am also acutely aware of the skepticism expressed by some that this Salary Resolution comes only four months into our term, and we still have to prove our worth. I get that, and I agree.
But I also think it’s important that we clear up a few details on what this resolution means.
First, the mayor of the County of Kauai can only authorize raises for 13 of the 30 listed positions. The remaining position salaries are set by the respective board or commission. The Fire Commission designates the fire chief’s salary, the Police Commission designates the police chief’s salary, and so on.
Second, the proposed resolution simply sets the maximum-allowable salary. Passing the resolution does not result in an automatic salary increase.
Lastly, regarding the 13 positions of which I have the authority to designate salaries, I have already committed to — and again reaffirm — that I will not authorize ANY salary increases until: 1) an executive has one year of work; and 2) has received favorable evaluation for their performance. Coming from the private sector, I firmly believe that compensation is based on performance and merit, and all salaries must be earned.
As for the other 17 position types where commissions, boards, or council set the salaries, we will recommend they do the same, but it is their choice. Also keep in mind that per County Charter, many executives do not turn over with a change in administration as they are not appointed by the mayor.
Our administration remains committed to recruiting and retaining the leadership and talent necessary to lead this county. In a market where unemployment is under 3 percent, ensuring a competitive compensation package is critical to this goal.
Derek S.K. Kawakami is mayor of Kauai.