Salaries make up most of budget

LIHUE — The county administration is seeking a $14 million increase and proposing tax hikes for the next fiscal year’s operating budget.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. is proposing a $204 million operating budget and a $14.3 million capital improvement program for FY 2017-2018.

“This proposed budget continues to pursue the shared goal of the county council and the administration to build a financial strategy that seeks to address the county’s short-term objectives while maintaining long-term financial stability,” Carvalho said.

Last fiscal year, the Kauai County Council set the budget at $189 million.

If passed, the proposed operational budget would be the highest in a decade.

In the last 10 years, the county’s operating budget has increased by about $56 million. The lowest budget was recorded for FY 2010-2011, when the county allocated $147 million.

The bulk of the budget, about 65 percent, $132 million will go to county employee salaries and benefits, according to the Mayor’s Budget Message.

“I am proud to say that this proposed budget accomplishes those goals while remaining structurally balanced,” the mayor said. “I look forward to working with our county council in the coming weeks to make important financial decisions for the people of Kauai and Niihau.”

The administration has also identified three “critical needs” that need to be addressed in the next fiscal years. They are road repairs and repaving, unpaved beach park parking lots and vehicle and heavy equipment replacement.

The county is responsible for 300 miles of roads. The proposed budget wants to allocate $6 million to address “the most essential road repairs identified across the island.”

The administration proposes that the council supports increasing the General Excise Tax as another revenue source.

“As in the previous legislative session, we anticipate that the county will be afforded the opportunity to levy a General Excise Tax,” the mayor says in his message.

For FY 2017-2018, the mayor proposes to allocate $600,000 to improve unpaved beach parking lots and $1 million to replace heavy machinery.

The proposed budget also includes a 19-cent increase in real property taxes, which will generate an additional $3.6 million in revenue.

The proposed increase is necessary to generate funds for road repair and maintenance projects, according to the message.

When it comes to the CIP budget, the mayor is proposing $14 million in improvement projects, which include renovating the Waimea pool roof, resurfacing the Kalawai Park basketball and tennis courts and playground renovations in Wailua houselots and homesteads, according to the CIP budget.

“It is an ongoing challenge for the county to ensure continued delivery of desired services using limited financial resources,” the mayor said. “Salaries, wages and other benefits account for 83 percent of our general fund expenditures. Reality is such that the cost of government continues to grow as a result of collective bargaining and the rising cost of doing business.”

To view the mayor’s proposed budget for FY 2017-2018 in its entirety and his accompanying message, go to the county website, www.kauai.gov/Announcements.

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