City funds hinge
on raises

The Council's budget chairwoman
predicts a $5 million shortfall
in operating expenses

The City Council could be forced to cut more than $5 million from next year's proposed operating budget because of less revenue and possible white-collar worker pay raises, Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi warned yesterday.

City & County of Honolulu

"We can't use a little paring knife. I think we're going to have to get out a larger knife to make the cuts that are necessary to balance the budget," Kobayashi said after a Budget Committee meeting.

But Mayor Jeremy Harris said: "As each department goes up and testifies, (Kobayashi) continually says, 'Oh, you're not being provided enough money,' and then after all the testimony comes out, she says she's going to cut the budget by millions of dollars. That's hypocritical behavior.

"The departments can't suffer more cuts especially to generate pay raises or to generate money for higher City Council personal budgets."

The City Council has proposed raising its budget to $12 million in next year's budget from $9 million in this year's budget.

Kobayashi said the Budget Committee will probably slash about $5 million in increased "tip" fees and fund transfers from the $1.2 billion budget. The committee would also have to make room for Hawaii Government Employees Association workers' pay raises. She estimated the raises could cost the city about $18 million over several years.

The budget shortfall would be created by:

>> $4 million that will have to be made up if Kobayashi shoots down the administration's proposal to increase the tip fees charged to commercial trash haulers. "We don't want to do the rate increase in the tip fees because it hurts people in condos and small businesses."

Harris said it is time that the Council follow its own plan and pass the tip fee increases instead of bowing to special interests.

>> $1 million lost to the city's general treasury fund if Kobayashi succeeds in keeping the Hanauma Bay concession revenue in the fund to benefit the bay.

>> An arbitration decision expected today on raises for the Hawaii Government Employees Association. "I don't know where we're going to get the money," Kobayashi said.

Kobayashi complained that the administration did not budget for any pay raises in the mayor's financial plan.

"I think we would have to look at more cuts because the administration does this to us; they don't budget items, and then they place us in the position where we have to raise bus fares again, raise the motor vehicle weight tax because of their failure to budget for known costs," Kobayashi said.

Harris said the reason there is no money in the budget for raises is because the administration has been "steadfastly against raises, and our position at the bargaining table is no raises."

Harris said the only way the raises will go through is if the Council approves them. "If the Council votes no on the raises, then there are no raises."

And there are several on the Council who agrees with the mayor.

"I will be a very vocal advocate for not having any raises. The city simply cannot afford it," said Councilman Charles Djou, a member of the Budget Committee, who will also seek cuts in the budget.

Councilwoman Barbara Marshall, also a member of the committee, said during yesterday's meeting, "We also have to ask ourselves the hard question of do we approve it."


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