Council members will appoint somebody to fill the slot.

The Honolulu Salary Commission has another position open on the seven-member panel.

David Hayakawa resigned from the volunteer commission last week due to his appointment to the First Circuit District Court, he wrote in his resignation letter. Previously he had his own private practice that specialized in criminal defense. 

His stepping down leaves the commission with two vacancies. 

Council District 1 Andria Tupola testimony councilman Tyler Dos Santos-Tam citizens city council pay raise Honolulu Council District VI Natalie Iwasa
Honolulu resident Natalie Iwasa speaks out against the Salary Commission’s proposed pay raises during June’s monthly Honolulu Council meeting. Iwasa offered suggestions on ways to restructure the commission. (Kevin Fujii/Civil Beat/2023)

Appointments to the commission are split between the mayor and the council: three members are appointed by the council, three are appointed by the mayor, and one is appointed by the mayor with council approval. Terms are staggered, and each lasts for five years.

The Honolulu Salary Commission first met in 1985, when it gave council members a raise of about 50% compared to their 1984 pay.  

Its job at the beginning of every year is to propose salaries for top city officials, including council members, the mayor, department heads, the prosecuting attorney, corporation counsel and others. 

Council members then vote to either approve or reject the commission’s proposals. If proposals are not brought up for a vote, the changes in salary automatically go into effect.

In most years the commission is a relatively obscure group, but it made headlines this spring when it recommended a 64% increase in pay for council members. This boosted their salaries from about $69,000 to about $113,000 and upped council chair Tommy Waters’ salary from about $77,000 to about $123,000. 

The new salaries took effect with the new fiscal year on July 1. Council members Augie Tulba, Andria Tupola and Radiant Cordero opted not to take the increases.

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