Mayor tightens budget belt

  • Contributed

    Mayor Derek Kawakami

LIHU‘E — The ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic have tightened the belt of the county government, and it will be reflected in the fiscal year 2021 budget as revenue streams remain uncertain.

On Friday, Mayor Derek Kawakami submitted a supplemental budget that showed a $10 million reduction in the proposed operating budget, to stand at $250,777,323, and a $33,642,237 capital improvement projects budget.

“While some budgetary presumptions are clearer, others are not, as we fully submit this supplementary budget proposal as a best-guess given present conditions,” Kawakami wrote in a memo to the Kaua‘i County Council.

“As the administration made every effort to limit the amount of adjustments between the March and May budget submittals, we freely recognize some profound changes reflect and are predominantly necessitated by the issues related to COVID-19 response and an anticipated lengthy recovery,” Kawakami said.

In the document submitted in March, the administration proposed an operating budget of $261.1 million and CIP budget of $34.4 million.

Even then, these proposals noted the uncertainty of impacts COVID-19 will have on the county.

“During the development of this budget submittal over the past few months, the revenue picture was very clear,” Kawakami wrote in a March 13 memo. “However, we fully recognize this presumption is no longer the case. For example, on March 11th, the state Council on Revenues changed its revenue forecast to a flat trend, indicating items like the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) and General Excise Tax (GET) county surcharge revenues are ever-changing.”

The county additionally anticipates the GET fund to be reduced by about $6.6 million.

A review of the supplemental budget confirmed that much of the cuts were directed on travel, trips to conferences, trainings, a hiring freeze and vehicle purchases save for critical requests for solid waste. The hiring freeze will also reduce some full-time positions to six-month, contracted jobs.

Expenditures for these items have been cut about 50% for the General Fund and 44% overall, according to the memo.

The Life’s Choices program will move from the Housing Agency to the Office of the Prosecutor, “to align juvenile-justice opportunities with diversion emphasis,” according to the memo from Kawakami. Two program specialists will move over to the office, one being fully funded.

In the March submittal, there were new revenue streams projected, including fee increases and fee adjustments at Wailua Golf Course and the Kekaha landfill, some of that revenue to be used to fund a wastewater rate study. These have now been eliminated. The supplementary budget includes an increased tax rate for about 380 high-value, residential investor properties, which adds $2.3 million in revenue to be used in the housing revolving fund for houseless and affordable-housing initiatives.

The Kaua‘i County Council will hold a special meeting and FY20-21 budget decision-making session at 9 a.m. on Friday, May 15. Webcast meetings can be watched at kauai.gov/Webcast-Meetings. A public hearing will be held Wednesday, May 13 at 5 p.m.

Correction: This article was updated Tuesday, May 12 at 9:45 a.m. to update when the FY20-21 budget decision-making session would be on Friday, May 15, not Wednesday, May 13 as previously stated.

9 Comments
  1. WestsideResident May 11, 2020 7:33 am Reply

    $10,000,000 reduction? Wow, that is a token reduction if I ever saw one. The mayor must be counting on a bailout.


  2. oscar May 11, 2020 7:35 am Reply

    Time for the the governor, mayor and all the politicians to stop getting a salary until they open the economy…they shut it down so lead by example. The preponderance of evidence suggests that this ISN’T a state of emergency. 278,000 worldwide deaths from covid 19 and 7,400,000 deaths from heart disease during the same time…this isn’t a pandemic…it is a DEM-Panic.


    1. Westside Boy May 12, 2020 9:11 am Reply

      You are so right! Good going Oscar!


  3. Rev Dr Malama May 11, 2020 10:48 am Reply

    We ALL must have full access to our beaches, parks and mountains.
    Housing is now available for the houseless in hotels until other accommodations are provided…. although it may be more expensive than holding these select individuals in the filthy looking parks…. the lack of adherence to public health and safety is truly shocking.
    ENFORCING the laws and maintain our island in a decent, safe and sanitary way is not to much to expect of the administration. Or is it?


  4. CommonSenseish May 11, 2020 2:18 pm Reply

    Can bet they are taking some nice raises tho. Corrupt.


    1. Un May 11, 2020 5:21 pm Reply

      Citation needed


  5. B4Kauai May 11, 2020 3:37 pm Reply

    Time for them to BALANCE the budget. That means looking for some additional revenue opportunities AND taking some much needed austerity measures. They can begin by moving on their own salaries please and take the same 20% (or more!) pay cut that nearly everyone on island has been taking. Share our pain through ACTION not just words. Maybe then the restrictions will also be more balanced.


  6. Kristina Colburn May 12, 2020 7:06 am Reply

    I patiently await the Mayors address each day. As a restaurant owner I would love to have some talk about the reality of when we can open. Does it look like next week? Two weeks? Another month? I know what an incredible job our Mayor is doing , I am grateful. Gov. Ige do I shut my restaurant down and try and take a break or keep hustling each day in hopes to get a to go order today? Anything?


  7. About time May 12, 2020 10:03 am Reply

    On May 16th, we will see how popular DK will be when he finally has to choke on the reality of his insane Dem nonsense and has to layoff county workers and shut down all the giveaway programs.


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