Tuesday, May 24, 2022 |
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We commend the county for finally deciding to televise the most important public meetings of the year.
No longer will community members interested in learning how their tax dollars are doled out be forced to take a week off from work to attend the departmental budget review process.
The Kaua‘i County Council kicked off these hearings Friday with Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s presentation on his proposed $164.98 million operating budget and $84.69 million capital improvement projects budget.
We understand this session and the remainder of this annual process will be streamed live online, archived on the county’s website and available for viewing virtually anytime.
Residents and visitors should join us in welcoming this boost to government transparency. We applaud the new council chair, Jay Furfaro, and other strong sunshine advocates, like Councilman Tim Bynum, for making this historic shift out of the dark ages.
We hope county officials refrain from concocting any excuse as to why there could be an interruption in broadcasting these important sessions as they heat up next week. This is a budgeted item and the technical side has given assurances that this is doable.
Members of the public deserve easy access to this crucial decision-making process. Lest we forget, this is their money the county is determining how to spend.
And with the mayor’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2011-2012 a whopping 12 percent higher than last fiscal year — despite the persistent effects of the Great Recession, declining property tax revenue, the unknown impact from the Japan disaster and uncertain fate of the state transient accommodations tax — community members should be demanding answers from their elected officials on where this $17.3 million increase is going to come from, why it is necessary and how it is going to be divvied up.
We urge the council to carefully scrutinize each county department’s budget request as well as the wildly varying numbers officials are reporting for the surplus. We have been told that the county may end the year with as little as hundreds of thousands of dollars to as much as tens of millions if dollars in its unassigned fund balance.
Now is not the time to loosen our fiscal belt. We must keep our core services running as well as possible and postpone anything frivolous until we enter more certain economic times.
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