Mayor’s budget: $161 M, 18 new hires

LIHU‘E — Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. on Thursday released his budget for Fiscal Year 2013. His administration is proposing to spend $161.2 million in operational expenses between July 1 and June 30, 2013. The budget represents a $24.63 million, or 14 percent, reduction from the current fiscal year, according to Carvalho.

“It should be noted, however, that the current fiscal year budget of $185.84 million includes the $25.38 million reserve fund, which is no longer a component of the operating budget for FY13, thus explaining the large variance,” he said.

To balance revenues, the administration is proposing to take nearly half, $10.75 million, from the county’s reserve fund.

“What would be left in the reserve is roughly $13 million,” county officials said Thursday evening.

In addition to the operating budget, Carvalho is proposing $61.5 million for the capital improvement projects budget, county officials said in a news release.

The CIP budget for FY13 represents a reduction of $21.6 million over the current CIP budget of $83.1 million.

The administration made “sound and prudent” financial decisions in the last two years, Carvalho said in a news release, but there are still “significant challenges” ahead.

“We look forward to productive dialogue between now and May 8 and to submitting a final proposal that will carry us through to financial stability and maintain the critical importance of service to our people,” he said in the release.

Simultaneously with the budget submittal and the news release, Carvalho sent an official message to the Kaua‘i County Council, the body that will scrutinize the proposed budget over the next two months and give final approval.

Carvalho first went through a parade of cost-saving measures — and the reasons for it — on his official message to the council. Half-way through the 13-page document, Carvalho announced several new hires for the upcoming fiscal year.

“We are proposing to fill 18 of the positions that have been dollar-funded during one or more of the past three fiscal years,” he said in the document. “It is apparent that service levels must return to ‘normalcy’ and that continued vacancies are unhealthy for the county organization as a whole.”

Rather than filling council-approved positions, however, the administration will apparently continue to use budgeted funds to move positions around, a practice that Council Chair Jay Furfaro has shown concern with in the last few months.

“Instead of just filling the positions as they were left, we have re-evaluated each one and determined if the operational need still fits the position description,” Carvalho said. “In some cases, positions are being redefined or moved to a different department or both. Some positions are also being downward allocated.”

The FY13 proposed budget shows a $938,260 increase in payroll over the current fiscal year. The salaries calculated in FY13 will cost $67.54 million. The salaries in the current fiscal year are costing taxpayers $66.6 million.

The budget includes “heavy investment” in new equipment in many departments, according to Carvalho.

“The proposed purchases range from new police and fire vehicles, to a new forklift and aerial lift truck in Parks and Recreation, to excavators, bush whackers and wood chipping machines in Public Works,” said Carvalho, adding the equipment will allow timely services and overtime reduction.

Over the last two fiscal years, county departments have “lapsed” millions in unspent budgeted funds, according to Carvalho.

“A calculation of dollars lapsed per department, averaged for fiscal years 2010 and 2011, reveals a ‘lapse factor’ ranging from a low of 1 percent (Office of Economic Development) to a high of 32 percent (Elections Division) of total budgeted funds,” Carvalho said in the message. “We have asked departments to reduce their overall budgets by roughly 25 percent of the average amount of funds lapsed for the past two fiscal years.”

If all departments apply this initiative, it could save the county up to $2.7 million overall and $1.8 million in General Fund dollars.

Carvalho will present his State of the County address today at 1:30 p.m. at the Lihu‘e Civic Center in the Pi‘ikoi Building.

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