City & County of Honolulu

The six new and three returning members of the Honolulu City Council were sworn in yesterday at City Hall by state Chief Justice Ronald Moon. Chairman Gary Okino, fifth from left, says a projected budget shortfall will be the Council's top priority.

Council takes office
with healthy wishes

The Council's projected $180 million budget
shortfall is at the top of the Council agenda

Associated Press

The new and renewed members of the Honolulu City Council were sworn in and offered a New Year's wish yesterday by state Chief Justice Ronald Moon.

During brief noontime inauguration of the nine Council members, Moon wished them "a productive and prosperous and healthy new year, and may your relationship with the mayor's office be as smooth as silk."

Before moving to the Blaisdell Center Concert Hall for an inauguration party, Honolulu's Council formally elected the three incumbents, each of whom have two years on the Council, to the leadership.

Gary Okino is chairman, Ann Kobayashi is vice chairwoman and Romy Cachola is floor leader. Okino has put a projected $180 million revenue shortfall in the city's budget as the Council's top priority.

Although rising land values will generate greater property taxes, it might not be enough to avoid a property tax rate increase, Okino has said.

In his inaugural address, Okino put the blame on past decisions to keep property taxes low by borrowing money.

"While this strategy keeps money in taxpayers' pockets, it also means that debt service consumes an ever-increasing portion of our operating budget," he said.

Okino touched briefly on the previous Council's scandals, which included prison terms for former Council members Andy Mirikitani and Rene Mansho.

"Granted, it's difficult to fault the public for the bad perception of the Council," he said. "But look past all the negativity, and you will see that the outgoing Council had an admirable record of accomplishments."

City & County of Honolulu

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