The Hawaii County Council unanimously decided to kill a plan to consolidate the 29 person Automotive Division under the 7 person Mass Transit Agency during its Wednesday meeting.
Council members were uncomfortable with the idea, saying that besides the hidden costs that they say were likely to crop up, as well as the apparent employee dissatisfaction with the move, the plan just simply seemed ill-timed.
That’s because despite the county employee furloughs and cutbacks, some Mass Transit administrators stood to gain a combined $46,000 in pay raises, including the $10,000-plus that would have gone to current department head Tom Brown.
The council members and Corporation Counsel all noted that the merge was not Brown’s idea, but rather the administration’s design. The council carefully made note of Brown’s excellent record of management, and sympathized with the conflicting position he found himself in.
The mayor’s office said the merge would have been a cost saving measure that would have been realised in the long run. “This will consolidate similar activities in one department,” said the mayor’s letter to the council when the amended budget was first submitted for review, “particularly the vehicle repair activities, allowing for increased efficiency in processing equipment for repairs and fuel and vehicle usage countywide. No new positions have been added as a result of this re-organization, although one previously unfunded position will be budgeted for the coming year.”
Reports that the employee union was not being included in the merge talks were refuted by administration, however, a number of DPW Automotive Division employees voiced their disapproval of the plan to the councilmembers before the vote was taken.