Categorized | Government, News

County 2013-14 budget overview

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Mayor Billy Kenoi and members of his administration’s cabinet met with West Hawaii resident Thursday, May 16 to review the upcoming budget.

Among the top items on the agenda was the proposed property tax increase, which Kenoi explained is necessary to preserve county services.

“This is the first time in county history that we’ve cut the budget four years in a row,” he said. “It’s not hocus-pocus numbers. It’s facts. We tried to be fair and reasonable. We’re not buying what we want; we’re paying for what we need.”

Kenoi noted the county’s major source of revenue is property taxes, with a $17.4 million boost from the state’s Transient Accommodation Tax.

Highlights of the Proposed FY 2013-14 Budget

* After four years of budget cuts, our county per capita spending is now the lowest in the state.

* Almost everything is getting more expensive these days, but county government has actually been getting cheaper. The administration is proposing a smaller county budget than we had in 2008, and the county would collect less in taxes than the county collected in 2008.

* This total proposed budget is $394.3 million. That is about $8.8 million less than the budget in effect in 2008.

* Property tax collections have been dropping each year so that we now collect less in taxes now than we did four years ago.

* County tax collections declined from $225.9 million in the year we took office to $198.3 million in the current year. Property tax collections with the proposed budget will be nearly $7 million less than the county collected in 2008.

* The tax rate adjustment would increase the average monthly cost for a homeowner by $8.59. It would increase the average monthly cost for owners of agricultural lands by $4.75. Owners of conservation lands would actually see their average monthly cost decrease by $6.26.

* We now have about 200 fewer county employees today than we had in 2008. With the budget cuts of the past four years, our employees have been stretched to the limit providing core county services.

* This budget improves public safety by adding police officers for Puna and Ka‘u; new fire trucks for Keaau and Honokaa; and funds a new fire recruit class.

* This budget provides more support to our rapidly growing mass transit agency to allow us to continue to expand service.

* This budget includes an additional $4 million because of increased payroll costs with the end of public worker furloughs, and $3.8 million for negotiated public worker raises.

* This budget includes $3.15 million for GASB 45, to pre-fund future retiree health care.

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