- Special Projects
Editor’s note: One of Civil Beat’s most popular features, the database of public employee salaries, is taking shape for the 2020 fiscal year, which began July 1. We update the salary database when new union contracts are signed and new budgets are put in place reflecting salary increases.
Hawaii County’s top officials received significant raises recently that have brought their paychecks in line with the wages paid in Maui and Kauai counties.
Big Island Mayor Harry Kim is now the highest-paid mayor among the three counties at $162,582. That represents a 23.2% increase from two years ago when he was making $132,000.
Some of Hawaii County’s top officials got even bigger percentage raises when the county Salary Commission changed the pay scale in January 2018. Commissioners noted some of those officials hadn’t gotten pay increases for almost a decade and said the big changes were necessary to make up for lost time.
Since 2010, we have been publishing a database with the names, titles and salaries of tens of thousands of public employees. Salaries are a major component of state and county budgets and we think it’s important for taxpayers to know how their money is being spent.
Two years ago Maui County’s top officials were generally the highest-paid in the three counties, and it still has the most employees even though the Big Island has more residents. Maui also still has by far the largest number of employees making at least $100,000.
Here’s a closer look at the neighbor islands:
At least 70 county employees receive six-figure salaries on the Big Island, and a total of 2,620 workers have been added to the database.
Of employees with set salaries (civil service workers are mostly listed by pay ranges), Managing Director Wilfred Okabe comes in second behind the mayor at $153,612. That’s a 29.1% raise from two years ago when Okabe made $119,004.
Police Chief Paul Ferreira makes $153,270. Two years ago he got $130,818.
Corporation Counsel Joseph Kamelamela and Prosecuting Attorney Mitchell Roth both make $153,228. Two years ago Kamelamela got $110,244 and Roth $113,580.
Fire Chief Darren Rosario is paid $151,200, up from $130,818.
County Council members have also received big raises, with Chair Aaron Chung now paid $77,016. Two years ago, then-Chair Valerie Poindexter got $58,008.
The other eight council members get $70,008, up from $52,008 two years ago.
The lowest-paid employee in the database is a special activities program aide making $18,480.
Of the 2,826 employees listed in the database, at least 123 make six-figure salaries.
The pay of top Maui officials has been relatively stagnant, and there’s been a lot of turnover.
Mayor Michael Victorino leads the way among those listed with set salaries. He makes $151,979, the same as then-Mayor Alan Arakawa got two years ago.
Next up are Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu and Fire Chief David Thyne, both paid $155,736. Two years ago Faaumu got $151,200, while then-Fire Chief Jeffrey Murray got $143,640.
Prosecuting Attorney Donald Guzman and Corporation Counsel Moana Lutey are both paid $146,575. Two years ago, then-Prosecuting Attorney John Kim and then-Corporation Counsel Patrick Wong got $142,306.
Managing Director Sananda Baz is paid $145,798. Keith Regan held the post two years ago and got $141,551.
The pay has not changed in the past two years for County Council members, with Chair Kelly King getting $82,225 (Michael White held the post two years ago) and the other eight council members getting $76,475.
The lowest-paid employee is a council executive assistant at $8,319.
The Garden Island has far fewer residents (72,133) than the Big Island (200,983) and Maui County (167,207), according to the latest U.S. Census figures.
Correction: Several of the following salaries have been corrected after additional information was provided by Kauai County.
Kauai also has a lot fewer county employees. Of the 1,395 in the database, at least 40 make six figures. And like Maui County, there’s been a lot of turnover at the top.
Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar leads the way among those with set salaries, earning $137,022, up from $119,357 two years ago.
Next up among those with set salaries are:
• Mayor Derek Kawakami, $132,000, exactly what then-Mayor Bernard Carvalho made two years ago.
• Manager and Chief Engineer Bryan Wienand, $130,000 (Kirk Saiki got $119,357 two years ago)
• Police Chief Todd Raybuck $127,313 (two years ago then-Chief Darryl Perry got the same).
County Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro is paid $71,033 (then-Chair Mel Rapozo got $63,879 two years ago), while the six other council members receive $63,140, up from $56,781 two years ago.
Thirty-seven employees are listed with the extraordinarily wide salary range of $21,008 to $114,400 because they are in “unclassified” positions the county said. They include hires exempt from civil service (such as council support staff) and short-term hires.
The lowest-paid employees with fixed salaries are five janitors making $21,198.
There are upsides to being a nonprofit as we carry out our public-service mission. We don’t have a paywall on our site, charge a subscription fee, or clutter our articles with ads. But this also means that reader support sustains every aspect of what we do. Without you, we don’t exist. It’s as simple as that. By donating, you’re supporting everyone on staff—and allowing unbiased, factual, honest journalism to thrive. If you value our work, will you make a tax-deductible donation today?