Video by David Corrigan, voice of Stephanie Salazar
HILO, Hawaii – Mayor Billy Kenoi presented his proposed budget to the Hawaii County Council on Wednesday, during the start of the annual Finance Committee meetings held to study the $412 million dollar spending plan.
The council is already familiar with the Fiscal Year 2014-2015 County of Hawaii Operating Budget. The mayor already revealed the plan to the elected officials in his February 28th council message. The message was shared with the public in media release, which read in part:
This balanced budget includes estimated revenues and appropriations of $412,608,475, and includes the operations of eleven of the county’s special funds as well as the general fund.
This FY 2014-2015 budget is $9,403,477 or 2.3 percent larger than the budget in effect when this administration took office in 2008. During the past five years of budget challenges caused by the national and international recession, we have continued to invest in county infrastructure while restricting spending and coping with increased health care and other costs. This budget reflects those efforts to control the cost of government while always maintaining essential police, fire and other core county government services.
After five years of declining revenues, we are finally witnessing a modest, measured recovery in property values. This will gradually translate into a stronger economy and a brighter budget picture. However, we also face a new challenge in the form of $18.4 million in additional employee expenses in the year ahead. Most of these costs were the result of public worker arbitration decisions and negotiated agreements that significantly increase salaries, wages, social security contributions and retirement obligations. These new employee and retiree costs reflect the difference between last year’s budget and this year’s budget.
Despite those additional costs, this proposed balanced budget does not require any increase in property taxes.Mayor Kenoi’s budget message – Feb. 28, 2014
On Wednesday, the room was full of department heads and county employees who watched as the mayor made his pitch to the nine legislators.
After the presentation, a question and answer session was held. With no new tax increases proposed this year, most councilmembers had high compliments for Kenoi’s administration.
VIDEO: Mayor Kenoi’s full presentation to the council