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.

Click here to load this Caspio Online Database.

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.”

Water rates increased in July, the first of four rounds of increases under a plan approved by the board last year.

Board of Water Supply Ernest Lau holds evacuation diagram if dam is compromised or is damaged from too much water.
Ernest Lau is the top paid employee of the agency that manages Oahu’s municipal water. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

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.

Hono City Council Member Ikaika Anderson speaks at parks committee meeting on the Waimanalo/Sherwood Forest.
Honolulu City Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson is paid $76,968 a years. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

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.

The Office of Council Services provides research and reference services to the council. Director James Williston earns $166,560, up from $154,728 two years ago.

Deputy director Warren Senda earns $158,040. Two years ago as a senior staff attorney, he made $120,642. At that time, Galen Onouye made $146,808 as assistant director.

Current supervising attorney Lloyd Yoshioka makes $126,938. He earned $104,406 two years ago as a staff attorney.

At the City Auditor’s Office, acting city auditor Troy Shimasaki is paid $166,560. Two years ago, then-Auditor Edwin Young got $145,002.

All nine of the other employees in the Auditor’s Office are legislative analysts earning from $48,195 to $113,548.

The database includes 29 employees of the City Clerk’s Office. Glen Takahashi, the city clerk, makes $160,920, up from $154,728 two years ago.

Next highest paid is Chadd Kakota, departmental staff executive assistant, within a range of $92,100 to $153,228.

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