(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi County Council on Wednesday voted to increase their Contingency Relief account using money from the Fund Balance from the previous year.
Puna Councilmember Ashley Kierkiewicz brought forward the proposal to boost the council’s discretionary spending by $270,000.
“I met with Finance to see if it was possible to pull some money from the fund balance in order to beef up contingency funds,” Kierkiewicz said, “and many of you on the council have sat on the nonprofit [grant-in-aid] ad hoc committee and recognized the critical need we have to support nonprofit organizations, really doing the groundwork to serve our community’s most vulnerable.”
The contingency funds are usually divvied up between the nine council districts and can be spent to assist non-profits, or county departments, with small projects that have public benefit. Spending any amount of the money requires full council approval.
“I’m all for increasing contingency,” said councilmember Maile David. “I was around when we had a $100,000 each and that was you know that really benefited the community.”
Councilmember Matt Kanealiʻi-Kleinfelder expressed some reservations about dipping into the fund balance, saying “Who wouldn’t, when you see more money in your savings account – you’re gonna go spend it. Because you got money in the account, that’s great. But I feel like the correct thing to do would be to start paying down debt, not necessarily buying new cars and going on vacations but using taxpayer money correctly.”
The Council also voted to approve two additional uses of the Fund Balance from Previous Year: $25,000 to fund an Independent Whistle Blower Program, and another to provide a West Hawaiʻi golf subsidy.