County: Mayor does not have an individual travel budget

LIHUE — While the County of Kauai does not have a travel budget specifically for the mayor, his airline expenses for fiscal year 2017 were about $13,000.

“We just have an overall Mayor’s Office travel budget, which includes all members and divisions of the Mayor’s Office,” said Sarah Blane, Chief of Staff.

In FY 2017, Mayor Bernard Carvalho had $13,357.19 in airline expenses, which is less than what was budgeted for the previous fiscal year. In 2016, he had $14,273.92 in airline expenses.

“(The) majority of those trips included travel to the neighbor islands, but some of the larger travel expenses included mainland trips for to the annual Hawaii on the Hill event in D.C., which mayor has co-chaired,” Blane said.

International trips Carvalho took during fiscal year 2017 included a trade mission to the Philippines and goodwill tour to Japan, Blane said.

For FY 2017, the county has just over $779,000 budgeted for employ travel. The year before, the county budgeted $775,000 for travel. During FY 2016, Carvalho took 42 trips to attend meetings, events and conferences.

According to the Associated Press, on the Big Island, expense reports show that Mayor Harry Kim spent an average $486 a month on travel for the first seven months of his administration, compared to former Mayor Billy Kenoi’s average $1,727 a month during most of his eight-year tenure.

Records obtained by West Hawaii Today show Kim claimed $3,402 in charge card and travel expenses from December through June.

Managing Director Wil Okabe had the most charge card use, with his $9,135 spent primarily shuttling back and forth daily from Honolulu for collective bargaining sessions at Honolulu International Airport with other county and state officials.

Executive Assistant Rose Bautista spent $4,977 primarily to attend a seminar on citizenship and immigration in New Orleans. Bautista, who headed the county immigration office for 15 years, said she wanted to go so the county could be prepared for new policies coming down from the President Donald Trump administration.

Kim’s public information officer, Janet Snyder, and Okabe’s private secretary, Martha Rodillas, went to Dallas to attend a government social media conference they said is the only one of its kind in the United States.

Snyder’s seven-month expenses came in at $3,328, and Rodillas claimed $2,993 for the same period.

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