Council begins FY 2013 budget review today

LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i County Council today begins a series of daily budgetary review meetings lasting at least until April 19 on the mayor’s proposed $161.21 million operational budget for fiscal year 2013.

The county’s fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30 the following year. Carvalho, who released his proposed budget on March 15, is expected to make a brief presentation this morning before the council begins discussing budget details, county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka said.

“His remarks will focus on the continuing challenge of budgeting in difficult economic times, with declining revenues and increasing fixed costs, while maintaining a commitment to improving public service to the greatest extent possible,” she said.

Council Vice Chair JoAnn Yukimura, who served as Kaua‘i mayor from 1988 to 1994, said all council members have a “stewardship” responsibility.

“The most important goal during these budget review sessions is to ensure that we are making the best use of taxpayers’ monies as we provide needed services, prepare for the future, and encourage excellence and cost-effective performance by county departments and employees,” Yukimura said.

Carvalho is projecting a decrease of 3 percent, or $1.9 million, in real property tax revenues for FY 2013 compared to last year.

“He has proposed no change in property tax rates,” Councilman and Finance Committee Chair Tim Bynum said.

“The outcome, should his proposal be passed by the council, will be the fourth straight year of tax reductions for tax classes other than residential, while the majority of resident homeowners will see tax increases,” Bynum said.

He said a key topic likely will be the proposed hiring of 18 new staff members in positions that are dollar-funded, meaning they are council-approved positions held in place by $1.

The proposed FY 2013 operational expenses reflect a slight reduction from the operational expenses of the current fiscal year, FY 2012, budgeted at $160.45 million.

However, FY 2012 also had a $25.38 million reserve fund attached to it through a resolution, adding to a total operational budget of $185.84 million.

 FY 2013 has no reserve fund, but Bynum said he is currently working on a proposal to require a permanent reserve fund.

For FY 2013, Carvalho is proposing to take $10.75 million from the reserve fund, and is also counting on using a projected surplus of $12.55 million at the end of FY 2012, June 30, to balance the budget.

The administration ended FY 2011, on June 30, 2011, with a $51.36 million surplus.

Council Chair Jay Furfaro has said that at the end of FY 2012 the county might have a $2.67 million shortfall.

Bynum disagrees with Furfaro, and said the county should make financial decisions based on actual behavior rather than a budget that is not followed.

“We will end the current fiscal year with a substantial surplus, not a shortfall,” Bynum said. “There is a big difference between the county’s stated intention in a budget and our actual behavior that is documented annually in our Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.”

Overall, Bynum said he supports Carvalho’s approach to the budget. It is time to “get back to normal” and address the negative effects on government services caused by austerity measures necessary during the economic downturn, he said.

The budget review sessions will start at 9 a.m. today, when County Managing Director Gary Heu is expected to give the council an overview of the budget.

Visit www.kauai.gov for more information and for live broadcasts of the budget review sessions.

Sessions will continue daily until April 19, except on weekends, holidays and Wednesdays, when the council has its regularly scheduled weekly meetings.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or lazambuja@ thegardenisland.com.

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