Saturday, February 27, 1999

Maui mayor calls
for hiring freeze

By Gary T. Kubota


WAILUKU -- Moving to decrease Maui County expenses, Mayor James "Kimo" Apana has ordered his department heads to immediately impose a hiring freeze on vacant positions.

Apana's decision, announced yesterday, is the latest signal by the new administration that the county faces difficult financial times.

Apana said the freeze could affect about 170 vacant positions and save the county some $1 million. He said the county will fill positions that have been determined to be essential.

Raymond Kokubun, county personnel services director, said a major portion of the vacancies comes from the police, public works and parks departments.

Apana said he may also limit other county spending, including overtime.

The county is expecting no relative increase in property tax revenues for fiscal 1999-2000, said county Budget Director Martha Suzuki.

Meanwhile, county expenses are expected to increase.

Apana says the county will be contributing $1 million more to the government retirement system.

It can also expect to lose $6.3 million in revenues annually because of the state Legislature's decision to reduce the counties' share of tourist accommodation tax funds.

Apana declined to disclose how he expects to meet the decline in revenues, but he already has announced a plan to increase the county's gasoline tax by 1 cent to continue to finance a speed-hump program.

Apana is scheduled to submit his budget to the Council on March 15.

Stuart McKinley, the Maui division chairman for the Hawaii Government Employees Association, said his group looks forward to working with the county to maintain essential county services and current employment levels.

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