Tag Archives: Honolulu Salary Commission

The City Council 64% Pay Raise will go into effect on July 1, 2023 unless the City Council rejects it

Two city council members have introduced two Resolutions to reject the 2023 Salary Commission’s recommendations for the pay raises.

  1. Resolution 23-81 REJECTS the ENTIRE Salary Commission’s recommendation. This will freeze the salaries as is.

BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the City and County of Honolulu that this
body, by at least a three-quarters affirmative vote of its entire membership, rejects the
entire resolution of the 2023 Salary Commission
submitted to the City Council under
Council Communication 111(2023) and the salary and salary schedule increases
recommended therein; and
. . .”

2. Resolution 23-82 REJECTS IN PART Salary Commission’s recommendation.

WHEREAS, the Council wishes to express its appreciation for the work of the
2023 Salary Commission, but concludes that the salary increases and salary schedule
adjustments recommended by the 2023 Salary Commission for Fiscal Year 2023-24
should be rejected in part;

Some facts for clarifications:

  1. If the city council does not adopt a resolution to reject the pay raise now, the recommendations of the Salary Commission will automatically become in effect on July 1, 2023.
  2. Chair Tommy Waters has to put the above two resolutions in the Honolulu city Council Agenda pretty quickly. Will Waters promptly allow these two Resolutions or others to be on the Council agenda? Will he come up with his own resolution or let the clock run out?
  3. Chair Tommy Waters publicly states that he’s “totally open to that idea” for the public to determine whether the city council position is a full-time or part-time job through a Honolulu City Charter amendment. Chair Tommy Waters, Vice-Chair Esther Kia’aina, and Budget Chair Radiant Cordera have publicly determined their position as “full-time”.
  4. Through the decades, the position has always been respected as part-time and no council has asked for a huge salary raise based on the platform that it’s a “full-time” position. Former City Council member Ann Kobayashi, amongst others, has publicly said, “You run for public office, you know what the salary is, you know what the hours are, and you do the best you can and the public service. The point is not to get in there and try to change the salary.”
  5. The public participation opportunity to approve the increase salary to “full-time” scale or not is obviously backward.
  6. The City Charter amendment procedure as to whether the Council deserves “full-time” salary cannot be decided before the default date of July 1, 2023. The earliest the city charter amendment process can happen is at next year’s 2024 election ballot. Keep in mind again that this suggested amendment action is separate from #1 timeline.
  7. It has always been the expectation that the city council position is a part-time salary. The council members have health benefits and other benefits. Each council member has 5 full-time staff, the Council Services, and the city departments to assist upon request.

The most recent confirmation of Rebecca Soon to the Honolulu Salary Commission can be viewed at the 4:03 video mark during the Council Hearing on January 25, 2023. The video shows the interactions between the council members and the nominee Soon about pay raises.

Rebecca aka Becky Soon has a lot of experience with Honolulu Hale as the latest addition to the Salary commission. Her father Ray Soon was Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s Chief of Staff. Her mother Cheryl Soon held many positions, including Director of Department of Transportation Services and member of the 2018 Honolulu City Charter Review Commission.

The Honolulu Salary Commission:

The current Honolulu Salary Commission Chair is Malia Espinda. The Salary Commission is made up of commissioners nominated by the Mayor and the City Council in this arrangement: 3 members appointed by mayor, 3 members appointed by council, 1 member appointed by mayor & confirmed by council.