Letters for Wednesday — April 05, 2006

• Parks department idea taxing

• On mayor and the budget

Parks department idea taxing

The Mayor’s appointed Charter Review Commission is doing an excellent job in generating ideas and considering public proposals for possible inclusion on the ballot later this year. As of April 3 there were already 27 proposals being presented at community informational meetings.

One proposal getting significant support is “Shall there be a new Park & Recreation Department?” On the assumption that this will cure all the current observed deficiencies in our parks it would obviously be considered heresy to oppose such a proposal. In fact, creating another department does not guarantee that improvements will follow unless there is a substantial increase in budget funding for this activity.

Consider that voter approval of such a proposal will force the County Administration (and the Council) to create a new department which will necessitate additional top level managers — at higher salaries. In addition it will require purchase of substantial new, very expensive equipment that is now being provided and shared by the Department of Public Works. Perhaps urging the Administration and Council to dedicate more funds to the existing organizations for park management and maintenance would be more efficient utilization of our tax dollars. Adding additional manpower at the worker level instead of management may achieve the desired results. Of course, in either case, it should be recognized that this will require increasing the County budget — a very controversial issue at this very time — and require higher property taxes. It’s primarily a question of money. So don’t be surprised if your next tax bill is higher if the dreams of many supporters of the proposal are to be attained.

In my opinion every elected or appointed person in our Kaua‘i County government desires to put “icing on our paradise,” but they are constrained by budget funding. Obviously not one of them is personally pleased with the current conditions of our parks. However, there are still no free lunches and additional costs incurred to improve the conditions must be borne by the taxpayers. Consider the financial consequences when voting — if this proposal makes the cut to appear on the ballot.

  • Murray C. Hudson

On mayor and the budget

This letter is in response to Sunday’s The Garden Island article containing comments from council member Jay Furfaro. Mr. Furfaro is a man with thoughtful ideas and some of them are worth noting.

He starts in a recent letter to the mayor with the observation that the new budget should provide more services for the public’s benefit and in particular that the mayor should have proposed more property tax relief for the coming year. This is a well-worn commentary from council members who are devoted to fixing responsibility for matters ailing the county on the administration. Let’s look a little closer. Our charter which is supposed to determine how we are governed provides that it is the council that is to enact the annual budget ordinance covering operational and capital expenditures and that it is the duty of the council to assure a balanced budget. The mayor may propose the expenditures to be made, but the charter specifies that it is the obligation of the council to adopt them.

In regard to property taxes apart, from proposing that they be increased to all time high amounts, the mayor’s budget message was vacuous. Furfaro’s letter complains that the property tax task force made a number of recommendations for reforming our taxes, but none appeared in the proposed budget. Mr. Furfaro fails to note that the council scheduled hearings on these recommendations and took no action toward adopting any of them. It is the council that has the county’s legislative power, not the mayor.

Mr. Furfaro criticizes the proposed operating budget for being $7.6 million too high and not applying “$7.5 million of newfound revenues”. His comments are well-founded, but it is within the purview of the council to make the necessary corrections. Why does he not accept accountability?

Another recommendation by Mr. Furfaro relates to a County Cost and Revenue Commission. It is a worthy concept but beyond expressing his views to the Charter Review Commission, he has failed to pursue it.

Mr. Furfaro then embarks on a series of worthwhile suggestions for the mayor. It will be interesting to see what is done on them.

It seems regrettable but our county administration seems to look to the council to provide governance and the council seems to look to the mayor. The county is following a rudderless path with deteriorating services accompanied by rising taxes.

  • Walter Lewis

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