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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, August 30, 2002

Tourism authority director to earn $240,000 annually

By Kelly Yamanouchi
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Hawaii Tourism Authority approved a three-year contract yesterday to pay its new executive director a $240,000 annual salary.

Rex Johnson, who is currently the director of physical facilities at the University of Hawai'i's John A. Burns School of Medicine, took a seat at the table with the tourism authority's board after the unanimous vote to approve his contract.

"It's a tremendous opportunity," Johnson said. "I'm very excited about it."

The three-year contract beginning Sept. 1 and running until Aug. 31, 2005, will automatically renew for two additional one-year periods unless either the tourism authority or Johnson terminate the agreement.

The contract says Johnson's performance will be evaluated annually by an administrative committee of the Board of Directors, and allows for termination at any time with limited salary beyond the point of termination.

The contract did not give details about criteria for the evaluations.

"We want a contract based on performance," said Mike McCartney, the tourism authority's chairman. "This meets the criteria and the issues that were raised in the audit."

Among other issues, a state audit earlier this year said the tourism authority's accountability for how it spends tax dollars was insufficient.

Under terms of Johnson's contract, the authority's board can adjust Johnson's salary at any time, but his base salary cannot exceed $295,000, McCartney said.

That limit is set at 15 percent of the 3.5 percent authorized for administrative expenses of the tourism authority, according to a state law passed in April.

State law also dictates that Johnson cannot receive additional bonuses from private funds beyond the salary cap.

Johnson will be included in the same benefit programs as other state officers and employees, and the tourism authority board can approve paid vacation leave.

The contract also says Johnson has full use of the the tourism authority's business expense fund.

Johnson takes over from Rick Humphreys, who had served as interim director of the authority since late last year.

Reach Kelly Yamanouchi at 535-2470, or at kyamanouchi@honoluluadvertiser.com.