Rising budget tells a story of increasing spending

Can we believe anything that anyone says anymore?

Here we go again. After spending 14 years on the County Council, one member running for re-election says that they are the “one who asks the tough questions … (keeps) the administration in check, (maintains) the budget, blah, blah, blah.

Mr. Rapozo left the Council in 2008 when the annual budget was $145 million. He came back in 2010 when the budget was $154 million, and has approved increases until now, when the budget has grown to a projected $188 million for the current year. That’s $34 million in new spending.

There are no fiscal reserves as they were drained to meet general fund needs over this period. Property tax revenues have ballooned, along with new tax categories that were created to pump more revenue from the system, vehicle weight taxes have increased, new gas taxes have been imposed, and other fees have been created over this time.This takes money out of everyone’s pocket, especially working families.

The county’s credit rating has also been downgraded. The people who rate government’s credit aren’t involved in local politics, but this downgrade tells the real story of what smart impartial people think of our county government.

How can anyone involved in creating this financial mess say that they have worked to maintain the budget and that raising taxes is a last resort? Further, the issues of solid waste disposal, traffic congestion, inefficiency of management (i.e. need for audits) and the ballooning number of county employees are all things that have been discussed over and over again for the last eight years of Mr. Rapozo’s council reign.

We deal with them everyday and we pay for them. They have been reported by The Garden Island for many more years: Kapaa traffic issues from at least 2002, siting a new landfill for at least a decade, and of course we know the sad story of Ernie Pasion. He tried to audit the administration and ended up filing suit against the county in November 2013 alleging violation of the state Whistleblowers’ Protection Act.

Well, it is up to us to vote, to get rid of the people who have had a chance to make things better and have only given us talk. We can’t take anyone’s word at face value and we know people’s memories can be very short.

It’s clear that any future council members will face a challenge to take care of these problems that have been going on for years and to really give us a more efficient and less costly county government. I find it hard to believe that those involved in helping create the messes we face can say that they are now ready to make a difference, if we will just vote for them one more time. Really?

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Jeff Demma is a resident of Lihue.

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