HILO, Hawaii: Its an annual tradition this time of year at the Hawaii County Council chambers… the Finance Committee begins its review of the upcoming county budget… interviewing the department heads of all administration departments and agencies to get a better understanding of how county government plans to spend its allocated funding.
This customary review usually kicks off with a budget presentation made by Mayor Billy Kenoi himself… and in recent years past, the moment has made for some interesting political drama…
In 2010, it was Hamakua councilman Dominc Yagong who went toe toe toe with Kenoi over the numbers. And last year, it was committee chair Brenda Ford who challenged the mayor on his fiscal proposals.
You might expect this year – an election year for the mayor’s seat as well as the council positions – to be as contentious as years past… but things were relatively quiet.
The Mayor made his presentation to the council, going over $365 million spending plan in general terms. Kenoi stressed that the upcoming Fiscal Year 2012-2013 budget is almost $38 million, or 9.4 percent less than the budget in effect when his administration took office in 2008.
For the fourth straight year, the County of Hawai‘i will collect less in property taxes, which means less money to spend… however, Kenoi said the budget does not require any increase in property taxes.
When it was time for the mayor to take questions… the first came from a North Kohala’s forward thinking Pete Hoffmann, joining the discussion from Waimea via teleconference.
When it was time for Dominic Yagomg to ask questions… the inquisition actually began with laughter…
And then an unexpectedly relaxed discussion…
The mayor’s decision to once again defer a voluntary payment to GAS-B 45 was the primary debate between these two, who are both seeking to hold the mayor’s office in this year’s election.
South Kona councilwoman Brenda Ford had a few questions of her own.