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Budget season blasts off with public hearings


Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor

The annual county budget season got under way Monday, March 22 in Hilo with the council’s public hearing. The three-hour hearing was dominated by testimony on the Hawaii County Band, which Mayor Billy Kenoi slashed from the budget.

The public hearing is mandated by the County Charter. It is to allow residents to comment on the proposed operating budget and capital budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July1.

The County Council did not discuss or vote on budget issues at the hearing.

This year, Kenoi has submitted a total annual budget of $375.3 million. The proposed budget, which must be approved by the Council, includes $11.7 million in spending cuts and eliminates 62 county positions, as well as scheduling two furlough days per month for some employees.

Additionally, Kenoi’s budget continues the free, islandwide Hele-On bus service and provides $1.5 million for isle non-profit organizations.

Although the proposed budget raises property taxes and cuts some services and positions, most of the testimony, however, focused on Kenoi’s proposal to cut county funding to the Hawaii County Band.

The 127-year-old band is allotted more than $300,000, which pays one full-time director and dozens of part-time members.

Council Budget and Program Review Schedule (Meetings are in Hilo Council Room. Video conferencing available in Kona and Waimea)

Finance Committee – 9 a.m., Monday, March 29

Statements from the public on agenda items

Departmental Budget and Program Reviews

  1. Mayor Overview of the operating and capital budgets and programs
  2. Department of Finance
  3. Miscellaneous debt service benefits etc.
  4. Planning department
  5. Office of Aging
  6. Fire department operating and capital if applicable
  7. Department of Public Works operating and capital if applicable

Finance Committee – 9 a.m., Tuesday, March 30

Statements from the public on agenda items

Departmental and Program Reviews

  1. Department of Data Systems
  2. Department of Human Resources
  3. Department of Research and Development
  4. Office of the Prosecuting Attorney
  5. Department of Liquor Control
  6. Office of the Corporation Counsel
  7. Police department Animal Control operating and capital if applicable

Finance Committee – 9 a.m., Wednesday, March 31

Statements from the public on agenda items

Departmental and Program Review

  1. Civil Defense Agency operating and capital if applicable
  2. Mass Transit Agency
  3. Department of Parks and Recreation operating and capital if applicable
  4. Office of Housing and Community Development
  5. Office of the County Clerk Office of the Legislative Auditor
  6. Department of Environmental Management operating and capital if applicable

Finance Committee – Tuesday, April 20

Operating and Capital Budget Discussion

Human Services & Economic Development – Tuesday, April 20

Nonprofit Organizations’ Grant Application Recommendations

Council Public Hearing – 5 p.m., Monday, May 17

Real Property Tax Rates

Council Meeting – 9 a.m., Wednesday, May 19

First Reading of Operating and Capital Budgets

Council Meeting – 9 a.m., Wednesday, June 2

Adopt Real Property Tax Resolution; Second Reading and Adoption of Operating and Capital Budgets

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