Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, his cabinet and members of the City Council would all get 4 percent raises starting July 1, after a recommendation Monday by the Salary Commission.
In a 5-0 vote, the commission also approved pay raises of 5.5 percent for the chief of police and his two deputies. That was done to make sure their pay remains substantially higher than some of their top assistants.
"We felt that it would be fair for everybody," said Salary Commission member Lee Donohue, who served as Honolulu's police chief from 1998 to 2004. "We recommended 11 percent for the chief of police and his two deputies. However, 5.5 percent brings it, I guess more to reality, and what is fair for the chief."
The council must still approve each suggested pay increase at a later date. Caldwell said he would scrutinize what the recommendations would do to the city's bottom line after the council has its say.
"Obviously, I believe that people should be compensated for their hard work," said the mayor. "At the same time, I'm going to look at what the impact on our budget will be. We'll see where the balance is."
District 8 Councilman Breene Harimoto told KITV4 he was inclined to vote against any proposed pay raise for council members, as the city struggles with crumbling roads, aging sewage infrastructure and a burgeoning homeless problem.
"You know, maybe we shouldn't take a salary increase until we can put a dent in the homeless issue and resolve some of those other issues," said Harimoto. "I personally have a hard time taking a salary increase at this particular point in time."
Still, Caldwell was quick to remind reporters that many city workers, in addition to himself and his cabinet members, have been working under a 5 percent pay cut since 2009 because of the economic downtown. With that in mind, Caldwell said he would not ask department heads to decline any proposed pay increase that's approved by the City Council.
"The first 5 percent is just restoring something that has been gone now for four years," said the mayor. "Whatever the Salary Commission finally votes on, and is passed by the council, that would be added on to it. So, they'd be basically getting an increase on top of the 2009 cut on July 1."
Currently, the mayor earns $136,428 per year, while council members make $52,446. A majority of the city's 19 department heads receive annual salaries of $121,894.
However, the annual pay for the chief of police is $143,729, while his two deputies earn $137,082.
The Salary Commission will hold a public hearing on April 16 at 1:30 p.m. before forwarding its recommendations to the City Council.
"The public can come in and voice its opinions, (and) naturally we'll listen to them," said Donohue.
According to the Council on Revenues, personal income in Hawaii is forecast to grow 4.6 percent this year without factoring in inflation. The inflation forecast is 2.2 percent.