(BIVN) – Last week, the Hawaii County Council made an initial attempt to approve a budget despite the many fiscal unknowns tied to the ongoing eruption along the lower East Rift Zone of Kilauea and the related disaster response.
On March 1, 2018, Mayor Harry Kim proposed an operating budget for the County of Hawai‘i for the Fiscal Year ending
June 30, 2019. At the time, the balanced budget included estimated revenues and appropriations of $515,710,662, and was 5.1 percent higher than last year’s budget.
But in May, everything changed. A new phase of the Kilauea Volcano eruption began, destroying homes in the Leilani Estates subdivision and the surrounding area of Puna. The county struggled to deal with the situation.
According to slides presented by Hawaii County Finance Director Deanna Sako, the unanticipated costs include $745,721 in overtime (to May 15), $560,500 for road repairs, $65,000 for security and shelter, and almost $10,000 for meals and supplies.
The anticipated impact on county revenues ranges from $3 million to $6 million, due to the reduced valuation of impacted properties and reduced real property tax collections.
Now, the administration and the council will have to figure out how to pay for it all. Options include reducing expenses, borrowing from other fund sources, or an increase to real property taxes. The final solution will likely involve a combination of all three options.
The debate will continue at the County Council in the coming weeks.