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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 16, 2002

City Council won't give itself raises

By Walter Wright and Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writers

City Council members stayed on course yesterday to deny pay raises for themselves, the mayor and his top aides.

But the council policy committee, composed of all nine council members, also favored 5 percent pay raises for the chiefs of the police and fire departments and their deputies, and 3 percent raises for the prosecuting attorney and other city department heads and their deputies.

The final council vote on the raises is scheduled for May 29.

The raises approved by the city salary commission will take effect July 1 unless the council rejects all or part of the hikes.

Seven council members approved yesterday's resolution on the pay raises, with only Councilman Steve Holmes objecting. He said the proposed pay raises were based on long study by the commission.

Councilman John DeSoto was absent from the policy committee meeting yesterday but previously joined the majority in rejecting the pay raises.

Councilman Jon Yoshimura appeared to speak for the majority when he said it was important to send the community a clear message that top city officials were willing to make do with less while asking residents to do with less during difficult economic times.

Yoshimura favored a more stringent measure, denying raises to all top officials.

But committee chairman John Henry Felix said the city needed to try to keep some salaries competitive with those in private industry for city employees who are running multimillion-dollar operations.

Under the salary commission's pay increases, the mayor's salary would have gone from $112,000 to $115,360. Police and fire chiefs would make $104,598, and directors of city departments, $99,807. Council members would have gotten $44,651, with the chair getting $49,904.

Also yesterday, a proposal for moratoriums on skate park and swimming pool construction passed out of the City Council's Budget Committee and will be voted on by the City Council on May 29, the committee chairwoman said.

But the committee reduced the three-year moratorium for swimming pool construction from three years to two years.

Concerns over skate park injury liability and swimming pool maintenance were some reasons for the proposed one-year skate park moratorium and two-year swimming pool moratorium, said City Council budget chairwoman Ann Kobayashi.

Kobayashi said the skate park moratorium would give the city time to seek immunity from the Legislature for skate park injuries and also to devise ways of building cheaper skate parks. The Keolu Hills Neighborhood Skate Park in Kailua cost $650,000, she said.

As for the swimming pools, Kobayashi said the moratorium would allow the city to develop a maintenance budget and a master plan on what communities would get pools.

City officials said it costs between $7 million and $10 million to build a 50-meter pool, and Kobayashi said it costs about $250,000 a year to staff and maintain one.