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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, May 16, 2003

Raises for police, fire chiefs debated

By Treena Shapiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

Proposed raises
Position Current Salary With 5 percent raise
Honolulu police chief $104,958 $110,206
Honolulu fire chief $104,958 $110,206
Deputy fire and police chiefs $99,603 $104,583

Pay raises for the fire and police chiefs and their deputies could depend on whether members of the firefighters' union are granted their arbitrated pay raises by the Honolulu City Council.

Council members discussed a city salary commission recommendation to give a 5 percent pay raise to the chiefs and deputies yesterday. They decided to continue the discussion at a Thursday budget committee meeting, when the firefighters' raises are also on the agenda.

Unless the council passes a resolution to reject the chief and deputy increases, the raises will automatically go into effect on July 1 — raising the chiefs' salaries to $110,206 and the deputies' to $104,583.

Council Chairman Gary Okino said the purpose of giving the chiefs the raises was to keep a differential between their salaries and their subordinates. Before deciding whether to increase the chiefs' pay, the council needs to decide what to do about an arbitrated two-year contract for firefighters that includes a 10 percent raise, he said.

"I think if we give the rank-and-file (raises), I think the general sentiment will be probably to give the chiefs their raise just to maintain the differential," he said.

Councilwoman Barbara Marshall has introduced a resolution to deny the pay raises for the chiefs, but she will need support from six other council members to have the resolution heard at the June 4 council meeting.

She said the chiefs received a 5 percent raise last July. "I have grave concerns about a 10 percent salary hike for upper management ... (when) the firefighters and police officers on the street really do need substantial increases, have been having to struggle and go to arbitration to get anything at all and we don't even know how we're going to fund those meager raises," Marshall said.

Police Chief Lee Donohue and Fire Chief Attilio Leonardi said that without the raises, some assistant chiefs who are represented by the unions will earn more than deputy chiefs, whose salaries are determined by the city salary commission. That issue makes it difficult to encourage officers to apply for promotions into upper management, they said.

Donohue added, "Pay parity is a big issue. It's a big issue nationwide. That's why we keep losing officers to the mainland.

"At least allow us to keep up with the bargaining unit," Leonardi said, pointing out that the chiefs were not asking for a pay increase to bring their salaries in line with chiefs with comparable jurisdictions.

The salary commission didn't recommend raises for other city officials, noting Mayor Jeremy Harris has said he would reject increases. Last year, the City Council rejected raises for themselves, the mayor, managing director and deputy managing director.