Harris to veto portions
of budget

Council members accuse the mayor
of playing politics and plan overrides

Mayor Jeremy Harris announced plans yesterday to veto portions of the City Council-passed $1.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2005, saying several allotments were excessive and others were illegal.

In response, City Council members accused the mayor of "trying to play politics" and said they would likely override his vetoes.

Harris plans to veto the Council's $11.9 million legislative budget, which pays for the city's elections and the salaries of 119 staff members. If the veto stands, a $9.4 million legislative budget that Harris' office drew up goes into effect.

Harris said yesterday that when compared with those passed in the last two years, this year's proposed legislative budget is "exorbitant."

But Council Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi said vetoing the legislative budget would leave more than 100 people without jobs, and the city "wouldn't be able to hold elections in September and November."

She also said the fiscal 2005 budget, $2 million more than this year's, made up for items overlooked in past budgets.

"I was somewhat surprised he would veto the legislative budget," she said. "I guess he probably wanted to get rid of the city auditor."

Harris said an alternative to vetoing the entire budget "is simply doing a line-item veto ... and reducing it down to a reasonable figure."

Harris also announced plans to line-item veto five provisos in the Council's operating budget and four items in the capital budget that he said violate state law and the City Charter.

Included in the vetoes is a proviso that would allot $240,000 to the Kaimuki trolley, which Harris said violates contractual agreements with the city's bus service. He also vetoed a proviso that would rule out the lowest bidder, Island Recycling Inc., in the contract for the city's curbside recycling program.

"It's really sad that he's trying to play politics with our core city services," said Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz. "We've been trying to work with the administration. He's criticizing our projects that we have asked for. ... We're talking just about city services, repairs and maintenance."

Kobayashi said the Council is expected to meet late this month to look over the vetoes.

"We'll probably meet the last week of June ... to overturn some of the votes," she said. The final budget is due July 1, when it goes into effect.

Harris said the Council also overestimated the revenues from a parking meter fee increase and underfunded the cost to convert the meters.

He said the Council also underfunded pay raises, by $635,000, for white-collar workers covered under the Hawaii Government Employees Association.

Kobayashi said the Council was working from numbers provided by the Mayor's Office.

Last year, Harris also line-item vetoed several items in the budget that city attorneys found illegal. The vetoes were overturned.

But Harris declined to implement any provisos that city lawyers thought violated City Charter or state law, including a manpower move from one city department to another, he said.


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