Council panel seeks
budget cuts

A proposal would fund pay raises
while trimming programs by
at least $2 million

The City Council's Budget Committee is recommending at least $2 million in cuts to the $1.22 billion proposed operating budget, including downsizing Sunset on the Beach in Waikiki, Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi said yesterday.

But Kobayashi warned that the Council must still find $8.2 million more in cuts to offset $6.2 million in union pay raises and $4 million in potential revenue loss due to rejection of a proposed increase in landfill tip fees.

Kobayashi's committee has scheduled a special meeting Tuesday to ready the fiscal year 2005 operating, capital improvement and legislative budgets for a public hearing later this month. "This is just the first pass," the budget chairwoman said.

The $6.2 million was awarded by an arbitration panel to white-collar city employees represented by the Hawaii Government Employees Association.

Kobayashi said the state Legislature and the other County Councils appear to be headed toward approving the raises.

"We'll also honor the pay raises," Kobayashi said.

The Harris administration has been opposed to giving pay raises when the city is financially strapped, so the mayor did not put money in the budget for raises.

Kobayashi said the proposed cuts to the budget include:

» $115,000 to the Managing Director's Office.

» Eliminating $25,000 in funding for Sunset on the Beach in Waikiki several times a year, which would be included in the $75,000 budget allocation for Rediscover Oahu, which holds similar programs in seven locations a year. Such a change would mean the popular movie program could be held in Waikiki only once a year.

» Supplies and vacant, funded positions throughout the budget.

» $80,000 from the $1.6 million set aside for the animal control contract held by the Hawaiian Humane Society so that two organizations, the Hawaii Game Breeders Association and the Animal Care Foundation, can each receive $40,000 as grants to help them respond to chicken noise and dog barking cases.

City spokeswoman Carol Costa said the city is in the process of awarding a contract for animal control services. "That (cut) will have a grave effect on our ability to contract with an organization starting this July," she said. "When we go forward with the contract for the animal control contractor, it will be at a further deficit."

Costa also said cutting vacant funded positions "will in every instance affect direct services."

Managing Director Ben Lee pointed out that the administration submitted a balanced administrative budget with services that was just 4 percent higher than the current budget. In contrast, the Council's legislative budget went up 30 percent, he said.

Kobayashi said cuts were made to the Council budget, scaling down inauguration for next January, but it was difficult to make cuts because of elections and a National Association of Counties conference next fiscal year.


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