LIHU’E – The next budget from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022 plays a key role in recovering from COVID-19 in the county.
Mayor Derek Kawakami and his administration proposed an operating budget of $ 243 million and a budget for capital improvement projects of $ 24.3 million last week that included no layoffs or vacation days for county employees and no tax increases for residents.
“Doing more with less will be a tough battle as there are many needs that deserve priority,” Kawakami wrote in a March 12 letter to Kaua’i County Council. “However, this year will determine our county’s budgetary outlook for years to come, and we must remain vigilant as we strive to rebuild what we have lost.”
The budget that the Kaua’i County Council will begin this week will prioritize past deferred maintenance, affordable housing, and responding to pandemics.
And that will happen, suggests Kawakami, with a significant cut in the county’s overall budget.
When Kawakami presented the budget for fiscal 2021 in March last year, the outlook was bleak as he proposed an operating budget of $ 261.1 million and a CIP budget of $ 34.4 million.
“During the development of this budget proposal over the past few months, the sales picture was very clear,” wrote Kawakami last year. “We fully acknowledge, however, that this presumption is no longer the case.”
In the following months, the administration reduced the budget on the operational side to US $ 250.7 million and for capital projects to US $ 33.6 million.
“There’s no question that our operating budget fell significantly in FY22,” Kawakami wrote last week. “However, we are pleased to be able to come up with a budget that will keep our workforce intact without proposing layoffs or vacations.”
With the county required to maintain a balanced budget, the prospect of missing out on the county’s share of the temporary state housing tax or hotel room tax, an estimated $ 14.9 million, or 8.3% of the budget, is likely to be influenced by the government. David Iges suspension of payments to the counties. However, real estate tax revenue remained steady at approximately $ 157.2 million, as was the county general excise tax revenue of $ 19.8 million.
The county is also refinancing general obligation debt to save approximately $ 1.5 million if current market conditions stay the same.
What’s in the budget?
Maintenance will be a priority in the coming fiscal year.
A recent survey found deferred maintenance costs of over $ 80 million that are “increasingly” important to management, Kawakami writes to the council.
A vertical expansion of the Kekaha landfill, which is estimated in the CIP at USD 335,200, is intended to extend the life of the site by four years. The county will continue negotiations with the state to build a new landfill near Ma’alo Road in Kapaia.
Roads and bridges have been maintained in the last year, which Kawakami’s budget intends to continue. This includes repairs to the Hanapepe Bridge, which is worth $ 175,000 for the county. The county plans to carry out repairs on bridges in Kipu and Koloa. $ 700,000 has been allocated to the CIP for minor bridge repairs.
In addition, the administration is working on the rehabilitation of the streets Olohena, Kukui and Ulu as well as safe routes to school projects at the schools in Koloa and King Kaumuali’i.
An additional $ 39 million of remaining funds under Act 35 will support infrastructure projects related to the 2018 floods. The county is attempting road and culvert repairs on Wainiha Powerhouse Road.
Kawakami pointed out the need to improve sewer systems in his memo. The budget was $ 12.4 million for the wastewater management department of the Public Works Department, of which $ 945,428 was earmarked for advisory services for projects such as the Waimea Reuse System and Microbiological Testing for the Department of Health. For the past fiscal year, the division’s consulting budget was $ 5,200.
This budget proposal also includes $ 2.6 million for housing and homeless efforts within the County Housing Agency.
As last year, a budget review found that travel restrictions for conferences and some training remain in place. While the county is not proposing layoffs, 13 jobs have been cut to dollar funds and 32 jobs have been funded on short term for half-yearly contracts.
Address previous issues
Problems that arose in the budget for the last fiscal year and in the following months are also addressed.
When the budget for 2021 was available for the second and final reading, there were a number of public statements against the control of wild cats. That proposal allocates $ 120,000 to fighting wild cats, up from $ 50,000 last year to mitigate predators that could result in fines for the county.
During the Council meeting on Wednesday, Bill 2817 will be available for a second and final reading. This bill distributes $ 250,000 to the Golf Fund as the Wailua Golf Course is on a tight budget.
The 2021 household budget was $ 2,811,724 for the course. Administration is suggesting $ 2,728,845 for the course, with less paying for post-employment benefits and leased equipment.
Salaries make up around 83.4% of the general fund. The district expects a modernized personnel management system to go into operation next January. In October, the county had allocated around $ 1.225 million for the system.
Both operational and CIP budgets will be available for first reading on Wednesday, March 24, at the county council meeting at 8:30 a.m. at kauai.gov/webcast-meetings.
The council will begin reviewing the departmental budget on Thursday March 25th.
Sabrina Bodon, Public Safety and Government Reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or [email protected].