Tuesday, May 4, 1999

City & County of Honolulu

Council leaders
would cut budget
by $18 million --
or hike bus fare

They dump the mayor's plan
for a garbage fee and rip
city revenue 'assumptions'

By Richard Borreca


City Council leaders plan to balance the city budget with $18 million in cuts that include eliminating deputy directors and executive administrative assistants.

Council Chairman Mufi Hannemann and John Henry Felix, Council budget and public works chairman, yesterday rejected Mayor Jeremy Harris' proposal to establish new garbage collection fees.

"The one thing that looks dead already is the trash collection fee," Hannemann said. "We dumped it."

The two Council members said they calculated that the city budget needed an extra $24 million to balance, but they did not want to drop city services. So they cut appointed positions and took another look at Harris' math.

"We found that the city's budget submittal was based on a number of assumptions we found faulty," Hannemann and Felix said.

"It included revenues from unconsummated and problematic land sales and development premiums, which, given the city's track record on land and housing developments, was a risky assumption," they added.

Proposals by the Harris administration to close city swimming pools, police and fire stations, golf courses and Honolulu Zoo children's exhibits were called "outlandish and far-fetched" by Hannemann and Felix.

Instead, they said the alternative budget was "our response to their intransigence."

Hannemann and Felix, however, held out the possibility of a final budget reckoning by raising bus fees.

"Given a choice between a trash collection fee or raising some bus fares, I think the bus fare is the way to go," Felix said.

City administration officials were not available for reaction yesterday.

The formal Council version of the city budget is to be made available for public inspection today. A public hearing will be held on it 7 p.m. Monday in the Council chambers at Honolulu Hale.

The actual budget, however, will not be adopted until June 9.

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