Thursday | October 19, 2017
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County will have to dig into coffers to fund police raises

A spokesman for Mayor Billy Kenoi said the county will “have to find the money within the current year’s budget” to fund raises for police officers.

“The county will be paying those raises. The estimate is that it will cost $3 million right now — and that includes salaries, wages and fringe benefits. That would be for the current fiscal year that just began (July 1),” Kevin Dayton, an executive assistant to Kenoi, said Monday.

The State of Hawaii Police Officers Union won a 16.8 percent raise over four years after binding arbitration. The union represents more than 2,800 police officers in Hawaii’s four counties. The officers’ contract expired in June 2011.

“The arbitration closed after the budget process for the current year was complete,” Dayton noted. No money for police pay raises, or for likely pay hikes for firefighters, who are still in salary arbitration, was included in the county’s $394.3 million budget.

The budget does include negotiated salary increases of about 4 percent for United Public Workers and Hawaii Government Employees Association union workers for fiscal year 2013-14.

On the Big Island, the police raise affects 471 union employees, two “excluded” employees and 18 excluded managerial employees, according to Ron Takahashi, the county’s human resources director.

SHOPO represents officers up to and including the rank of lieutenant. The two excluded employees work in the Office of Professional Standards, formerly known as Internal Affairs, while the excluded managerial employees are captains, majors and assistant chiefs.

Takahashi couldn’t provide new pay figures. “We’re looking at the numbers right now to submit to council for approval,” he said.

Prior to the raises, the lowest yearly base pay for a new recruit was $51,240 while an assistant chief could make up to $123,624. An unofficial calculation finds that lowest recruit base pay would be $59,848.32 and highest pay for an assistant chief would be $144,392.83 after the full 16.8 percent increase takes effect.

The pay for the police chief and deputy chief is set by the county Salary Commission and is not affected by collective bargaining. Chief Harry Kubojiri’s salary is $114,768 a year, while Deputy Chief Paul Ferreira makes $109,296.

“I didn’t see how the raises were spread out, the particulars of this raise, but I did see the raises given the other bargaining units, and it’s comparable,” Kubojiri said. “I think it’ll help us in our retention; I think it will attract more applicants to the job. … I think it makes their pay scale somewhat more comparable dollar-wise to jurisdiction of same or similar sizes on the mainland. Of course, the cost of living in those areas are not as high as here in Hawaii.”

Detective Todd Pataray, SHOPO’s Hawaii Chapter chairman, said Wednesday that the raises have not been officially announced by the police union, and he couldn’t comment until that happens.

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