(BIVN) – A troubled mayor went before the Hawaii County Council in Hilo on Wednesday for the final reading of Bill 110, establishing an operating budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. However, Mayor Harry Kim appeared despondent in regards to the county’s spending plan, following a 48-hour period in which hundreds of homes in Kapoho were inundated and destroyed by lava.
“I don’t know what to even tell you anymore,” the mayor said, before the budget deliberations began. “Whatever numbers [finance director Deanna Sako] puts forth, its a guessing game.”
“We are experiencing something of mother nature that all of us – including the best scientists in the world – are in wonderment, in awe, of what is happening,” Mayor Kim said. “We are talking over 600 families displaced.”
“Know that the needs are greater than I’ve ever seen,” the mayor said. “I’m begging the governor for as much money as he can give.”
Kim apparently had some success “begging the governor”. On Thursday, one day after the council video was recorded, Governor David Ige released $12 million to support the county’s response to the active volcanic eruption.
Following Mayor Kim’s speech, the County Council was unable to agree on an amended version of the budget, and so the administration’s budget – with estimated revenues and appropriations of $518,004,985, and crafted before the latest eruptive events in Puna – will take effect.
On June 19, the council will also take a final vote on a proposal to enact a one-quarter (.25) percent general excise tax at the county level. On his “wish list”, the mayor is asking the council to approve the new GE Tax.
Big Island Video News will be posting more video from the day-long budget discussion.