LIHUE — Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami submitted his requested budget for the fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020) to the county council on March 15. The council has held departmental budget reviews from March 28 through April 15 and will hold deliberation and preliminary decision-making on the mayor’s proposed budget during three meetings open to the public on May 10, 13 and 14 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
Public testimony will be taken at each of the three meetings.
The mayor’s requested budget asks for a total of $229,964,627 million for operating funds. Of that nearly quarter billion dollar requested operating budget, $140.1 million will make up the general fund if the mayor’s requested budget is accepted as is by the council.
The requested operating budget is comprised of 14 different funds, ranging from the highway fund, sewer fund, solid waste fund, general excise tax fund, housing, and community development fund, and criminal asset fund.
Of that operating fund, $24.1 million is included for the general excise tax fund, $22.2 million for the solid waste fund, $19.2 million for the highway fund and $11.7 for the sewer fund. The next highest requested amount is $4.4 million for the housing revolving fund, followed by $2.5 million for the golf fund.
According to the mayor’s requested budget proposal, available online on the county’s website, “the fiscal year 2020 budget reflects total revenues of $233.75 million or 9.5 percent over fiscal year 2019.
“A large contributor to this year’s operating budget is the additional $11.85 million in anticipated general excise tax revenues, previously authorized by the Kauai County Council,” the budget says. “General excise tax funding will be utilized to expand our bus services and repair our roads.”
Compared to fiscal year 2019, if approved, the mayor’s requested 2020 budget has a 10.7 percent increase over the previous year. Two contributing factors for the over 10 percent increase are primarily due to salaries and related expenses, and the general excise tax fund, according to the mayor’s request.
“Salaries, benefits, and collective bargaining expenses make up 60.1 percent of the total budget and increases continue to challenge the county’s finances. While the bulk of our expenses are not within our full control due to the collective bargaining agreement, other post-employment benefits, and contribution increases to the Employee Retirement System, we remain committed in adhering to our obligations as bargained,” the requested budget reads in the explanation for increase in county expenditures. “General excise tax surcharge expenditures of roughly $24.35 million allows the county to fund $18 million to Public Works for roads and bridge repair. The remainder of the surcharge, approximately $6.12 million, will cover Transportation operational cost that was previously part of the General Fund.”
The projected county expenses within the mayor’s requested budget for the fiscal year 2020 total $242 million. That number is up from $218.7 from fiscal year 2019, or an increase of $23.4 million, a 10.7 percent increase. But most of that increase, $24 million, is attributed to anticipated revenues from the half percent general excise tax increase authorized by the County Council that took effect Jan. 1. Those funds are earmarked for bus service, repairing potholes, and fixings roads.
Of that total, $145.4 million is being requested for “salaries and related,” a $9 million increase from 2019.
The proposed salary increase currently before the county council would not take effect if passed would take effect for Kawakami and other county employees immediately, which would force the council to reopen the budget once it is passed.
The next highest requested figure for the county’s 2020 expenses in the requested budget is $78.5 million for operations, $11.3 million for debt services, $6 million for utilities and $719,375 for open spaces. Of those four figures, the highest increase over 2019 is in the operation, which would have an increase of $14.4 million, or 22.4 percent over fiscal year 2019.
Capital Improvement Program
The mayor has requested $36.1 million for the capital improvement program, a $4.5 million decrease from last year’s approved appropriation.
Of that requested amount for the capital improvement program, the highest requested amount is $23.3 for the bond fund, followed by $8.4 million for the CIP general fund, $3.2 for the highway fund and $631,809 for the special trust fund for parks and playgrounds.
Kawakami concludes his requested budget for 2020 by stating, “We look forward to the open and respectful dialogue together.”