Mayor signs $2.76 billion budget
The city's spending plan includes $265 million for Honolulu to build its new rail transit system
Mayor Mufi Hannemann signed the city's $2.76 billion budget into law yesterday, saying it focused on basic city services, while his critics on the City Council reiterated concerns that government spending has increased too rapidly.
The $1.8 billion operating and $954.1 million capital budgets for fiscal year 2009 beginning July 1 allow for the city to embark on many of Hannemann's proposed projects, including planning for the $4 billion rail system and a police patrol for beach parks, while keeping property tax rates the same.
"As in previous years, the fiscal year 2009 budgets place a premium on financial prudence and accountability with a steadfast commitment to basic city services like public safety, sewers and solid waste, parks and public facilities and transportation," Hannemann said in a news release.
The budget also includes $245.3 million for sewer upgrades and garbage hauling, $8 million to expand curbside recycling, $77 million to repair major roads and $265.1 million for the 20-mile elevated rail system from Kapolei to Ala Moana.
Homeowners will receive a $100 tax credit, which is half of what the city awarded last year.
In the face of increasingly difficult financial times, with gas prices soaring past $4 a gallon and cost of basic necessities such as food increasing, several City Council members had criticized the budget, which was approved on June 4. The 2009 budget is $335 million larger than last year's.
"There could have been more cuts so we could have provided more relief to our residents," said Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz, who had proposed decreasing the property tax by $0.03 per $1,000 and giving $100 more for the tax credit. "There's definitely some concern with the state of our economy. It should have been our responsibility to figure out how we could have given back more."