LIHUE >> The Kauai County Council, which last week defied Mayor Maryanne Kusaka on three major budget issues, yesterday agreed to partially fund two of her priority projects.
Kauai tightens reins
on county budget
The council agrees to fundBy Anthony Sommer
2 of the mayor's projects but
keeps control of the money
But then it put the money where the mayor can't get at it without further council action next year.
Kusaka had asked for $2.1 million to hire consultants to continue to study whether the county should acquire Kauai Electric Co. if its owner, Citizens Utilities, puts it up for sale again.
Citizens currently is renegotiating a contract with a group called the Kauai Island Utilities Cooperative.
An earlier deal between the two was rejected last year by the state Public Utilities Commission.
The mayor also asked for $100,000 to contract for increased janitorial services at county parks under a new privatization law passed this year by the Legislature.
The Council zeroed out both requests in its budget bill.
But it then added $1.2 million to a "contingency fund" in the county's capital improvement budget.
In effect, the Council set aside half the money requested for the Kauai Electric studies and all the money for janitorial services as construction money.
"If we had appropriated the money as part of the operating budget, we would have lost
control of it," said Council Chairman Ron Kouchi. "Because it is general fund money, it can be moved from the capital improvement budget back into the operating budget, but only by a vote of the Council."
He added, "We allowed her the opportunity next year to justify how the money would be used."
The mayor's office declined a request for comment on the Council's move.
Last week, the Council cut the mayor's request for greatly increased green fees at the county's Wailua Golf Course, revoked her broad authority to freely move funds within departments and approved a cut in property taxes after Kusaka argued against a tax decrease.
The Council's Finance Committee will vote on the budget Monday.
The full Council is scheduled to consider it on May 31.