Mayor offers overview of salary proposal

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

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.

  1. I saw a Vampire once April 10, 2019 11:22 am Reply

    Any pay yet? Other voices mean you’re the outsider. Not the government agencies. Like public works and the engineers there.

  2. TotalRecall April 10, 2019 1:04 pm Reply

    Total recall of another raise thy had last year.

    Can the Mayor and council tell the people when was the last increase in these positions occurred?

    Can he show performance records that produces a legitimate positive impact that these positions and the council as well as the Mayor accomplished in the first 100 or so days?

    The county government has nothing to do with the 3% unemployment numbers. In fact the state and county waste tax payers monies on positions to fill outreach programs to people who are too lazy to search for jobs themselves. The duplication in services is a racket.

    This is the best excuses he can make to make an argument for their demands of a pay raise.

    Like I said before, let the people know when and how much the last raise were for these positions? It’s a shame and such a no shame that they want 10-14% raises again after only a year of receiving the same pay increases.

  3. DeJaVu April 10, 2019 3:16 pm Reply

    DeJaVu same same

    Proposed increases in salaries, taxes a quandary
    By The Garden Island | Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 12:05 a.m.

    Under this proposal, here is the list of titles and salaries:

    Mayor $135,300; Managing Director $125,602.48; County Engineer $122,340.93; Deputy County Engineer $117,446.55; Director of Finance $122,340.93; Deputy Director of Finance $117,446.55; County Attorney $122,340.93; First Deputy County Attorney $117,446.55; Deputy County Attorney $112,299.00; Prosecuting Attorney $122,340.93; First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney $117,446.55; Deputy Prosecuting Attorney $112,299.00; Director of Human Resources $117,446.55; Chief of Police $130,495.83; Deputy Chief of Police $117,446.55; Planning Director $122,340.93; Deputy Planning Director $112,299.00; Manager and Chief Engineer, Department of Water $122,340.93; DOW Deputy Manager-Engineer, $117,446.55; Fire Chief, $130,495.83; Deputy Fire Chief $117,446.55; Director of Economic Development $112,299; Director of Liquor Control $112,299; Director of Parks &Recreation $122,340.93; Deputy Director of Parks &Recreation $117,446.55; Director of Housing $117,446.55; Boards and Commissions Administrator $112,299; County Clerk $122,340.93; Deputy County Clerk $117,446.55; County Auditor $122,340.93.

    Councilmembers would also see a raise, effective Dec. 1, 2018. Their annual salaries would be: Council chair $72,808.83; councilmembers $64,718.50.

    Now, the salaries of these jobs already seem fair enough without the increase. But officials will argue raises are necessary to keep top talent. Finding replacements takes time and costs money, so it’s smarter to give raises to keep people home and happy, goes the argument. You, the citizens, can decide if you believe the folks holding the posts that go with those job titles are worth it.

    DeJaVu same same

  4. Makani B. Howard April 11, 2019 8:48 pm Reply

    Ludicrous. I find it hard to believe that you, the mayor, won’t approve all of the 13 raises. What? Are you going to approve 11 and not 2, for example? Not like you can fire them. (Council members)

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