- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 11, 2014

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - The mayor and county council members on Hawaii’s Big Island may be getting raises, despite the mayor saying he does not want one.

Mayor Billy Kenoi told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald (https://bit.ly/1hJolGg ) on Tuesday that he will not accept the proposed raise. Instead, he will make sure it’s donated to charity.

Salary commissioners are proposing a 21 percent raise to bring the mayor’s annual salary to $132,000.

“I’m not taking a dollar of that raise,” Kenoi said. “I made that promise, and it’s a promise that I intend to keep.”

Salary Commissioner Brian De Lima said the mayor’s opinion isn’t relevant. He says they’re giving the raise to the position, not the person.

County council members would get an 8 percent raise to bring their salaries to $52,000. The council chairman would get a 12 percent raise to make $58,000 a year.

Commissioners say that even with the raises, Hawaii County Council members are the lowest paid council members in the state.

The proposed raises come at a tricky time for council members who are headed into a primary election.

Four incumbent council members face challengers. Hamakua Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter faces challenger Larry Gering who frequently criticizes government spending, especially salaries. Poindexter said she sees the raise as a cost-of-living adjustment for what is a full-time job.

“I work days, nights and weekends,” Poindexter said. “When I took this job, I took it as a full-time job; I don’t think it can be done part-time.”

The raises, if formalized by a vote expected on July 8, would have an effective date of July 1.

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