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.
The top two engineers for Oahu’s municipal water system have received raises totaling about 15% over the past two years.
Ernest Lau, manager and chief engineer, is now paid $191,432, compared to $165,939 two years ago. His deputy, Ellen Kitamura, earns $181,860, up from $158,396 two years ago.
They are the top paid of 589 employees of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply that have just been added to Civil Beat’s public employee salary database, along with 128 employees of the Honolulu Legislative Branch.
Since 2010, Civil Beat has 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.
The Board of Water Supply manages municipal water resources and distribution. It is a semi-autonomous agency, and money collected from water rates finances its operations and projects.
The BWS is governed by a Board of Directors, which sets the salary of the top engineers and follows a policy of ensuring they are “commensurate with the market salary of other large water utilities.”
BWS officials have said they are making their rate structure more equitable, charging those who use more water at a higher rate while those who use 2,000 gallons or less monthly will see bills about the same or even slightly lower.
Most residential users are seeing an increase.
The increases are partially intended to address Oahu’s problems with water main breaks. Ruptures occur almost every day somewhere along the system’s 2,100 miles of water pipes.
The BWS is aiming to replace 1% of all pipes annually.
Meanwhile, At Honolulu Hale
Civil Beat is still working to obtain salary information for thousands of City and County of Honolulu employees, but the database already includes about 2,000 sworn officers of the Honolulu Police Department.
Just added are the employees within the Honolulu Legislative Branch, including the City Council, the City Auditor’s Office, the City Clerk’s Office and the Office of Council Services.
City Council chairman Ikaika Anderson is paid $76,968. Two years ago, then-chair Ron Menor made $71,520.
The other eight City Council members are earning $68,904. Two years ago, that figure was $64,008.
Andre Malahoff, executive assistant to the council chair, is paid $110,000. As a legislative analyst two years ago, he made $85,500.
The City Council currently has 20 legislative analysts, with senior advisor Kimberly Ribellia earning the most at $105,000.