Kokua Line

June Watanabe

City bus pass subsidy
awaits public hearing

Question: When will the city implement the 2003 bus fare increase provision that would give qualified low-income riders a break and allow them to pay the previous monthly bus rate?

Answer: Before the Bus Pass Subsidy Program is offered, the city Department of Transportation Services will hold a public hearing to receive testimony on recently developed rules and regulations covering the program.

The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. March 29 in the city Department of Human Resources Annex, adjacent to Honolulu Hale.

Under the subsidy program -- also known as the "circuit breaker" program -- economically qualified riders may buy monthly bus passes for $30 for adults and $13.50 for youths. That compares with current rates of $40 a month for adults and $20 for youths.

(Youths are defined as students 6 years old through high school, not exceeding 19 years old. College students older than 17 must purchase adult fares.)

To qualify, an applicant's annual gross income cannot exceed 30 percent of the Median Family Income published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The program will be implemented after the rules and regulations are approved. Applications for the subsidy will then be available at all satellite city halls, the Department of Transportation Services, the Department of Community Services and the Middle Street Bus Pass Office.

Q: I'm a public school teacher. We're having problems with the vendor payment department again. They're not paying our purchase orders and taking them back for erratic reasons. They tell us to pay cash for receipts. We pay cash, then they kick the bill back for reasons that don't make sense even to our school offices. If we pay by check, they want to see our monthly bank statement. If we pay by credit card, they want to see our credit card bill at the end of the month before they will consider reimbursing. I am afraid to say my name, but my class depends on supplies. Can you please help?

A: It was difficult to get more than a general answer because there was nothing specific we could cite.

According to the Department of Education, the payment rules for vendor payments have not changed recently.

Asked to explain how reimbursements are made, Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen said that classroom supplies are primarily bought by purchase order, using state funds.

"We make payment on purchase orders as long as the original invoice is submitted showing prior approval by the principal, written certification that the goods or services were received, and procurement laws were followed," he said.

Regarding a teacher's use of personal funds to buy classroom supplies, he said reimbursements are made on all itemized original receipts that show payment was made.

Proof of payment -- such as a credit card bill or bank statement -- is not required unless the receipt does not show that payment was made, or the name on the receipt is the school name or the name of a different individual, Knudsen said.


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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