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Council expected to approve budget

LIHUE — The county’s budget for fiscal year 2017-18 is up for final discussion this week.

When the Kauai County Council meets Wednesday, it is expected to approve the operating and Capital Improvement Projects budgets for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. submitted a $204 million budget in March. But when he submitted his supplemental budget on May 5, it reflected a $600,000 decrease, bringing it to $203.5 million.

According to a memo from Carvalho, the budget was lowered due to a cut in shares of Transient Accommodations Tax funds and not getting an advance of the General Excise Tax, which would have given the county $20 million a year to pay for highway and transportation improvement projects.

During the budget meetings, which began on May 18, the council further decreased that number to $201 million.

That was made possible by removing funds the auditor’s office, which had an allocation of $504,000, and cutting an additional $100,000 to pay for performance audits.

The Office of Economic Development had the most cuts, with $65,000 being removed. Those monies were scheduled to fund salaries for airport greeters and initiatives like the Climate Action Plan and the Aloha Plus Challenge.

Additionally, $400,000 in overtime for the Kauai Police Department was removed from the budget.

The council is also expected to pass the CIP budget, which has a total of just over $13 million.

Highlighted projects include improvements to the Vidinha Stadium baseball field, Rice Street crossing improvements, construction and design of sheltered bus stops, and upgrades to Anini Beach Park and the restrooms at Black Pot Park in Hanalei.

The mayor’s original budget also proposed a 19-cent increase in real property taxes, which was expected to generate $3.6 million in revenue.

But on May 12, councilmembers voted not to increase taxes, and instead to take money from the reserve fund to make up the $1.5 million difference between what the rise in property taxes would have generated and what they were able to cut from the budget.

If passed, the budget will go to Carvalho for signature on Thursday.

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