Mayor proposes budget increase

LIHUE — A preliminary 2016-17 county budget released this week by Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. proposes a $188.8 million spending plan — an increase of about 3.4 percent from the current $182 million budget.

“I am proud to say that we have balanced our budget for the second consecutive year without having to utilize the unassigned fund balance,” the mayor said. “We achieved this while meeting our financial obligations and without proposing any increases in real property tax rates.”

Budget highlights include a proposed salary increase of 4.3 percent for county workers. Last year, county wages totaled $118.45 million. Proposed wages in the mayor’s budget are $123.77 million. Wages represent about 65 percent of the total county budget. As proposed, wage increases this year include $840,000 for mid-range workers and their supervisors and $960,000 for department heads and executives.

The mayor’s 2017 budget also seeks a $2.6 million increase for police and firefighters, with $1.3 million proposed for each agency.

While there are no proposed tax rate changes for the upcoming fiscal year, revenue from real property tax is projected to increase by $6.46 million, or 5.7 percent over fiscal year 2016, according to the mayor’s office.

Of the projected increase, slightly more than half will come from growth in commercial, hotel and resort taxes. Broken down, commercial tax revenue will increase $1.8 million and hotel/resort tax will rise $1.49 million.

The mayor is proposing a $17 million capital improvement program.

Public budget discussions will run March 24 to April 12. The fiscal year starts June 1.

Carvalho will present his State of the County address on Thursday. The event will be held at 9 a.m. at the Lihue Civic Center, Moikeha Building courtyard.

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