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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Honolulu police managers also may get pay raise

By Treena Shapiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

Rank-and-file Honolulu police officers may not be the only ones getting a raise this year.

Mayor Jeremy Harris has said he expects the council to pass the raises during today's special session.

"We agreed to go back in special session to look at pay for (the managers)," Ann Kobayashi said.

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If, as expected, the City Council passes a 60 percent increase for the motor-vehicle weight tax today, middle managers such as captains, majors and assistant chiefs would also get raises. Also getting raises would be Fire Department managers and city deputy corporation counsels who aren't covered by union contracts.

To car owners, the weight-tax hike will mean money from their pockets — approximately $16 to $34 when registering their vehicles each year.

Council Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi yesterday said giving raises to excluded managers was the key to taking another look at the weight-tax increase plan the council set aside earlier this month.

"We agreed to go back in special session to look at pay for them," Kobayashi said.

Kobayashi, who earlier had resisted any increase in the motor-vehicle weight tax, yesterday said the council would look for other financial sources for the raises, but "at least there's this option."

"It seems like we're just running out of time," she said.

Mayor Jeremy Harris, who supports the motor-vehicle tax hike to pay police, has said he expects the council to pass the raises during today's special session.

The raises for the excluded managers will cost about $365,000 for the current fiscal year ending June 30, but Kobayashi does not expect it to affect the tax hike. It was unclear yesterday how many managers would get raises.

The city has been struggling since September to find $5.8 million to pay for the raises and benefits in the first year of the police contract reached through arbitration. All four counties have approved the State of Hawai'i Organization of Police Officers contract, but Harris has informed the council that none of the counties can pay their officers the raises until Honolulu comes up with a source of funding.

The tax proposal

A proposal up for final approval before the City Council in special session at 10 a.m. today:

• Raise the annual motor-vehicle weight tax from 1.25 cents to 2 cents a pound for owners of O'ahu's 545,000 passenger vehicles.

• Raise the annual tax from 2 cents to 2.5 cents for commercial vehicles.

Members of the public can submit written testimony by 10 a.m. or show up and testify.

The vehicle weight tax is paid with the annual motor-vehicle registration. If approved, the first motor-vehicle weight-tax hikes would be sent to car owners along with motor-vehicle registration forms in February.

The tax increase would bring in $5.5 million through June 30, and $13 million the next year, according to administration estimates — bringing in close to the $5.8 million needed to pay for the first year of the police contract.

Since January registration bills have already been sent out, the higher taxes will not be reflected until February's bills go out at the beginning of the year.

On average, car owners will pay the extra $16 to $34 on their taxes, depending on how heavy their vehicles are. For instance, Toyota Corolla sedan owners will have to pay $18.97 more, Toyota Tacoma pickup truck owners will see a $26.62 jump and Toyota Highlander sport-utility vehicles will cost their owners another $27.30 a year.

Council members are under pressure from the administration to pass the measure today, the last chance to pass a hike that would take effect Jan. 1. Kobayashi said the administration projected an $87 million shortfall in next year's budget if the council passes the weight-tax increase, or $107 million if it does not.

The council decided to reconsider the increase after learning some middle managers within the police, fire and corporation counsel departments did not get the raises, while those below them did.

With the 4 percent raises this year, the highest paid rank-and-file police lieutenants would make $5,336 a month — $156 more than the current $5,180 monthly salary for some of the higher ranking captains.

Without adjustment to the middle-managers' salaries, by the end of the SHOPO contract in 2006, 80 percent of lieutenants would make as much or more than 20 percent of the majors and 80 percent of the captains, according to information provided by the Police Department.

A letter to council members signed by Deputy Chief Paul Putzulu on behalf of Police Chief Lee Donohue supported raises for the excluded managers. "The (excluded managers) should receive fair compensation for the additional duties and responsibilities required of them," it read.

Adding on the excluded employees will not alter the weight tax, Kobayashi said. Excluded police managers and employees would receive 4 percent raises for the four-year union contract — costing the city $245,000 this fiscal year and $887,758 for the length of the contract.

Firefighters received 1.5 percent raises for the two-year contract awarded this year. To give excluded managers the same raise this fiscal year would cost $37,984.

In addition, corporation counsel deputies are mayoral appointees, so $82,400 would be the total cost to give them 4 percent raises for the one year left of Harris' term.

The salary increases for about 1,900 Honolulu police officers in the union will depend on rank and years of experience. The base pay of an entry-level recruit with up to three years of service as of July 2002 was $33,408, while a lieutenant with 22-plus years in HPD earned more than $61,000.

Under contract details released by an arbitration panel in September, officers would receive a 4 percent raise in each of the four years of the contract, which along with health-fund payments and other benefits will cost about $66.4 million over the length of the contract.

Reach Treena Shapiro at tshapiro@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8070.