LIHUE — Raises for some county officials and employees were approved Wednesday.
In a highly anticipated meeting, the Kauai County Council unanimously voted to defer a vote on a three-part package resolution to increase salaries, some of which will go into effect in July, and the county council effective in December 2020.
The deferment vote ensured certain employees including the police and fire chiefs and the mayor will see pay increases starting through an inability to carry an amendment to the resolution, either unanimously or through minority vote, which would have passed a measure to stop the pay increases.
It was suggested at one point during the debate that any councilmember that didn’t want the pay increases could “give the money back to the county to use.”
Several motions to either reject the resolution proposed by the Salary Commission in whole or in part were introduced throughout the course of the contested agenda item.
“Over 50 percent of the people in Hawaii that cannot get by — right— that they’re struggling,” Councilman KipuKai Kuali‘i said before the vote. “While they’re struggling, we’re not even paying attention to that.”
Kuali‘i pointed out they raised the General Excise Tax this year, which he added is a regression tax that hurts the taxpayer.
“How dare we, how dare we, because of our own mismanagement — and poor, you know — in exact words, ‘what to do about the roads in the 10-plus years,” he said.
He went on to say the raises come on the backs of the poorest on Kauai.
The combined average annual salary for all county officials on the list, excepting the councilmembers, is slightly over $115,000.
The vast majority of the proposed raises are 7.6 percent, although a handful of officials are in line for larger jumps in pay.
Councilmember Ross Kagawa made a motion to defer the vote before the council. Arthur Brun seconded Kagawa’s motion to defer before the motion to defer the resolution carried 6-1 with Kuali‘i voting no to defer the vote. Council Chair Kaneshiro held a silent vote, which counted as a yes.
Councilmember Ross Kagawa could be heard saying, “Merry Christmas” as the council went into a break immediately after the vote.
Council chair Arryl Kaneshiro reiterated that future councilmembers will see part three of the resolution (councilmember raises), although the raises take effect for council members, who will make $67,956 a year with the chair making $76,452, starting Dec. 1, 2020.
Ryan Collins, county reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Note: This article was corrected on April 25 to reflect Arryl Kaneshiro’s silent vote, making the vote 6-1, not 5-1 as earlier reported.