Friday, May 28, 1999

City & County of Honolulu

Council panel
OKs crucial budgets

'Revenues appeared magically,'
preventing higher garbage,
bus and golf fees

Construction budget called
pork-barrel byproduct

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Unanticipated revenue was the chief reason why Oahu residents won't be paying a garbage fee or higher bus fares or golf fees.

That doesn't mean residents are off the hook, though.

An increase in property tax rates to offset falling assessments is expected to be approved before the City Council's budget process is over. And one proposed fee increase still alive is a boost in vehicle registration fees. If approved, that proposal would raise the current $10 fee to $20.

The Council's Budget Committee unanimously moved its recommendations for the operating and capital improvements budgets yesterday, and will consider revenue bills today.

City budget officials went into last weekend needing to find $23 million in revenues because the City Council was reluctant to impose a garbage pickup fee, which would have brought about $19 million, or increase golf fees, which would have meant $1.8 million more. An additional $1.3 million was needed to make up the cost of recently approved collective-bargaining raises for city employees.

"At the time the mayor's budget was submitted (in March), it was a different budget," Council Budget Chairwoman Rene Mansho said. "Subsequent to that, I guess, revenues appeared magically."

Among the unanticipated revenues:

Bullet $4.9 million showed up as reimbursements for overpayments to workers' Social Security and health insurance benefits.

Bullet $4.49 million is expected from the sale of fee interests to leaseholders of the Kukui Plaza condo complex.

Bullet $2.4 million would be gained by billing the H-POWER fund for increased accounting services.

Bullet $1.9 million is expected to be collected from the Board of Water Supply in accounting service charges because the agency's budget is larger than originally anticipated.

Bullet $700,000 more in investment interest income is expected thanks to the sale of city lands at Pearl City Junction and Manana.

Bullet $1 million is expected from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, funds withheld from grants after audits of city waste-water projects.

And finally, by using money from short-term notes to purchase equipment as part of the capital improvements budget, the city hopes to save $2.2 million in the operating budget that had been targeted for leasing equipment.

Minority members say
new construction budget
a byproduct of pork-
barrel politics

The majority maintains that the
overall budget shows no disparity

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Constituents of City Council members Rene Mansho and Andy Mirikitani may be reaping benefits from the recent reorganization of Council leadership.

Minority members of the Council said favors went to majority members' districts; majority members called the charge preposterous.

The Council Budget Committee approved a $267.5 million construction budget, including $20.9 million in additional Council-picked projects for Oahu.

Of that additional funding, Mansho's district will receive $6.9 million, while Mirikitani's will benefit from $6.6 million more in projects. That amounts to 33 percent and 31.4 percent, respectively, of funding for the Council-picked projects.

Mansho and Mirikitani were viewed as the key Council members in replacing Mufi Hannemann with Jon Yoshimura as chairman two weeks ago.

Fellow majority Councilman John DeSoto's district got $2.7 million, or 12.7 percent, in new project money.

In contrast, the districts of minority members John Henry Felix and Donna Mercado Kim will get $690,000 (3.3 percent) and $992,000 (4.7 percent), respectively, of new project funding. Hannemann's district gets no new project funding. He did not ask for additional projects in his district.

Among the other members in the majority, Steve Holmes' district will get $1.3 million (6.2 percent) of the new money; Duke Bainum's, $1.3 million (6.1 percent); and Jon Yoshimura's, $556,500 (2.7 percent)

Kim brought attention to the disparity by putting up wall charts showing the amounts each Council district received.

When Kim grilled Mansho about how the new projects were picked, Mansho responded that the effect on health and safety was the main criterion, not where the projects are being placed.

Holmes said it was misleading for Kim to make accusations of unfairness based on the list. The overall construction budget shows no disparity between majority and minority members, he said.

In the budget, DeSoto's district gets $40 million (24.5 percent); Kim's, $32 million (19.6 percent); Mansho's, $26.8 million (16.5 percent); Holmes', $13.8 million (8.5 percent); Yoshimura's, $10.6 million (6.5 percent); Hannemann's, $10.3 million (6.3 percent); Mirikitani's, $10.1 million (6.2 percent); Bainum's, $10 million (6.1 percent); and Felix's, $9.5 million (5.8 percent).

The remaining $104 million is for islandwide projects.

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