Cuts slice mayor’s

The City Council trims the
operating budget by $3.3 million

Several of Mayor Mufi Hannemann's initiatives -- including the curbside recycling program and expansion of bulky-item pickup service -- might be in jeopardy because of cuts the City Council's Budget Committee approved yesterday to the proposed $1.4 billion city operating budget.

City & County of Honolulu But overall, Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi said, the Council's first pass at the budget kept intact much of Hannemann's proposed fiscal 2006 budget that focuses on basic city services such as public safety, roads and sewers.

"I think because the administration sent us a pretty tight budget ... really concentrating on core services. We want to support the administration in that effort to fund these core services, to get some of these core services done," she said.

The committee approved revisions of the legislative, executive and capital improvement budgets. The Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing 4 p.m. Thursday on the budgets.

Kobayashi recommended $3.3 million be pared from the operating budget and nearly $500,000 in additions.

The largest single cut was more than $1.2 million to the automotive equipment services budget, which funds automotive parts and other expenses for the repair and maintenance of most city vehicles.

Kobayashi said she has heard reports of abuse including sloppy record-keeping of inventory of parts.

But Facility Maintenance Director Laverne Higa defended that agency, saying the division chief runs a tight inventory system with multiple layers of checks.

After the meeting, Higa said the cut could delay putting vehicles into service for curbside recycling and bulky-item pickup and could also interfere with the administration's roadwork program if trucks are not repaired or maintained in a timely fashion.

The committee also approved a cut of $500,000 that Budget Director Mary Pat Waterhouse said was intended to carry out the second phase of Hannemann's Mayor's Review, an auditlike look at the city's finances and functions.

The first part of the review, conducted in the first two months of Hannemann's administration, identified problems in determining the financial and operational status of the city. The second part would recommend and carry out solutions to the problems.

Another budget cut, $243,827, came in employee training, which Hannemann's Mayor's Review cited as sorely needed.

Human Resources Director Ken Nakamatsu said training is intended to give employees "a different perspective of how to do a better job."

Kobayashi said that as far as the cuts that could affect the mayor's initiatives, the funding could be restored.

But Kobayashi said that the city might need to rethink rolling out curbside recycling given the state's current bottle redemption program and the recycling program undertaken by the schools.

"Are we actually going to do that?" Kobayashi said. "For the city to get into this, the cost is at least $4 million and then $1.2 million for the maintenance. Maybe we should coordinate more with the state."

City & County of Honolulu

E-mail to City Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com