Editor’s Note: Our popular public employees salaries database is back. This year, we’ve combined all agencies in a single database but we’ll still be breaking out stories on state and city departments in the coming weeks. Today: the City and County of Honolulu. 

Four Honolulu officials make more than $200,000 annually and another 110 earn more than $100,000.

The medical examiner, Dr. Christopher Happy, remains the top-paid city employee at $261,384, followed by Dan Grabauskas, who earns $257,250 as head of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, Robin Lerseth, who makes $220,008 as plant and operations manager for the Board of Water Supply, and Dr. Rachel Lange, the deputy medical examiner, who makes $209,136.

Police Chief Louis Kealoha is the city’s sixth-highest-paid employee at $173,424, and Mayor Kirk Caldwell is 12th at $157,080.

Honolulu Hale.
While employees are spread out around Oahu, Honolulu Hale is the headquarters of the city and county government. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Honolulu supplied names, job titles and salary range information for 9,333 city employees in response to Civil Beat’s public records request. The news outlet has created a searchable, sortable database for the public to explore through various search options, including by department, name, job title or salary amount.

The database also includes salary information for thousands of state employees, including University of Hawaii officials, lawmakers, judges and Gov. David Ige’s administration.

Civil Beat started publishing salary data in 2010 as part of our effort to make government more transparent. It was the first time a Hawaii news outlet had published the information, although it’s common in other states.

Salaries are by far the biggest cost in state and local government. Understanding where that money is going — how much and to whom — is critical for the public to evaluate whether its elected officials are wisely using tax dollars.

Knowing this information also helps ensure city and state employees are being paid fairly in relation to their co-workers. The salary data provided is just that — salaries. It doesn’t include overtime or benefits.

Honolulu continues to withhold the names of police officers, as it has every year. Police department officials have taken the position that the names of some officers can’t be disclosed because it could compromise undercover work, whether the officer is assigned to undercover duty or not.

HPD provided information for 2,647 employees, with salary ranges for the vast majority.

Based on the data provided, the police salaries total $152.8 million to $217.7 million, making it the city’s most costly agency.

Note: Civil Beat is still awaiting salary information from the state Department of Education. In addition, we will be adding information from the University of Hawaii Athletics Department and the county governments of Kauai, Maui and the Big Island.

Here’s a look at the top 25 highest-paid city officials as of last July 1.

Name Department Title Salary
Christopher Happy Medical Examiner Medical Examiner $261,384
Daniel Grabauskas Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Director of Rapid Transportation $257,250
Robin Lerseth Board Of Water Supply Dist Cool Plt Mgr and Oper $220,008
Rachel Lange Medical Examiner Deputy Medical Examiner $209,136
Brennon Morioka Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Deputy Director of Rapid Transportation $197,210
Louis Kealoha Police Chief of Police $173,424
Manuel Neves Fire Fire Chief $167,904
Cary Okimoto Police Deputy Chief $165,384
Marie Mccauley Police Deputy Chief $165,384
Lionel Camara Fire Fire Deputy Chief $160,128
Ernest Lau Board Of Water Supply Manager and Chief Engineer $160,000
Kirk Caldwell Office of the Mayor Mayor $157,080
Ellen Kitamura Board Of Water Supply Deputy Manager and Chief Engineer $150,898
Roy Amemiya Office of the Managing Director Managing Director $150,264
Keith Kaneshiro Prosecuting Attorney Prosecuting Attorney $148,872
Georgette Deemer Office of the Managing Director Deputy Managing Director $142,440
Raynard Soon Office of the Mayor Executive Assistant to the Mayor $142,440
Armina Ching Prosecuting Attorney First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney $141,552
Mark Wong Information Technology Director of Information Technolog $140,352
Ross Sasamura Facility Maintenance Director and Chief Engineer $140,352
Mark Rigg Emergency Services Director of Emergency Services $140,352
Michele Nekota Parks and Recreation Director of Parks and Recreation $140,352
Gary Nakata Community Services Director of Community Services $140,352
Donna Leong Corporation Counsel Corporation Counsel $140,352
Carolee Kubo  Director Director of Human Resources $140,352


Civil Beat Database of Public Employee Salaries

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