Emergency Services Director: Ocean Safety 'Savings' Will Cost Taxpayers More

The mayor has a math problem on his hands.

Mayor Peter Carlisle has denied a requested lifeguard exemption from the union-approved 5 percent pay cut, saying he wants to "maintain consistency throughout all departments" — even though a member of his Cabinet says the cut will actually cost the city an extra $20,000.

In a detailed letter to the mayor on June 13, Emergency Services Director Dr. James Ireland requested the exemption for the Ocean Safety Services division, stating that not only will the city lose more money than it will save due to the terms of the agreement, but the pay cut and 50-50 medical premium increase will have a "disproportionate effect" on Oahu's 161 full-time and 70 part-time ocean safety officers.

Because beaches are open and must be staffed 365 days of the year, implementing the pay cut will require extra overtime shifts and won't actually create any savings, Ireland wrote. The agreement with the Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA) calls for six hours per month of paid supplemental time off that must be used, which amounts to nine days per year. When the full-timers take their paid nine days off, part-time personnel have to be called in and paid to cover the beaches.

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