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Apr 07

Chair's 3 Minutes: Deliberations commence on county’s fiscal year 2015 budget

Posted on April 7, 2014 at 9:40 AM by Office of Council Services


 
 

Published in The Maui News April 6, 2014
By MIKE WHITE , for The Maui News

Upon receiving Mayor Alan Arakawa's budget proposal on March 25, the Maui County Council officially entered into its deliberations on the fiscal year 2015 budget. The proposed budget totals $622.6 million, an increase of county spending by $63.3 million.

The challenge before the council is to determine whether the proposed spending increase is warranted and justifies an increase to property tax collections. The mayor's budget proposes real property tax increases of approximately 6.5 percent to the rates for all tax classifications. This is in addition to an estimated 9 percent increase in taxes from rising property values.

District meetings

Public input is critical to the council's efforts to adopt a fiscally prudent and balanced budget. Throughout the rest of April, the council will hold public hearings in each of the county's nine districts. The committee has already held two successful hearings in Pukalani and on Lanai.

These public hearings traditionally have generated strong turnout from the nonprofit sector. This year, I am strongly encouraging the general public and businesses to participate in the budget process by coming out to testify at their district's public hearing.

The committee will also conduct budget meetings at the Council Chambers in Wailuku on most days, beginning March 31 and continuing through May 2.

In addition to testifying at the public hearing or at the budget meetings, members of the public can participate in the budget process by sending written testimony to the Budget and Finance Committee. Letters can be mailed to the Budget and Finance Committee (BF-1), 200 S. High St., Wailuku 96793. Emails can be sent to bf.committee@mauicounty.us.

A short survey is available online at www.mauicounty.gov/2015budget.

These are a few tips you should consider to make your testimony effective: address your testimony to the committee chair, identify yourself and the organization you represent, state the program you wish to support and why, back up your claim with facts and, finally, conclude your testimony by summarizing your position.

Upcoming district meetings include:
  • Monday, Lahaina Civic Center, 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Paia Community Center, 6 p.m.
  • Friday, Kalanianaole Hall, Kaunakakai, 6 p.m.
  • April 14, Kihei Community Center, 6 p.m.
  • April 17, Lihikai Elementary School, Kahului, 6:30 p.m.
  • April 22, Helene Hall, Hana, 6 p.m.
  • April 24, Council Chambers, Wailuku, 6 p.m.
It is in your best interest to speak out and inform your elected officials how tax dollars should be spent. I encourage everyone to participate because, after all, it is your money.

* Mike White holds the County Council seat for the Paia/Haiku/Makawao residency areas. He is the chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee. "Chair's 3 Minutes" is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters.

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Comments

Judith Hornick
April 21, 2014 at 8:38 AM
Councilman White: I read your ed op in the Maui News 4/20/14 and applaud your thoughtful approach to county government. I am chagrined by the cavalier approach to government we find here in Hawaii and in Maui in particular. While successful businesses and responsible government units in many states find fiscal responsibility to be a big challenge, here it is fixed immediately by raising taxes and fees. When will the council and mayor understand that adding more government positions with higher salaries only impacts the quality of life of those who benefit from those salaries, ie, the employees. This is accomplished on the backs of the people who work 2 and 3 jobs to maintain a minimal lifestyle. I believe the Hawaiian word is Auwe! Shame! CUT those extra government positions; send uncle and cousin out to find real jobs and earn a living. Last year your raised the pay of all department heads and their assistants to over $100K per year. How many of the people of Maui who WORK for a living earn that kind of money even in 3 jobs??? The overload of people allegedly working for the county is shameful. The fix for any and all problems is to add money via taxes and fees. When is the last time anyone took a look at the top heavy government and suggested trimming some of the fat??? As a former elected member of the board of education for our school district in Minnesots, we were mandated to have a balanced budget or the state removed our funding entirely. How's that for a concept? Live within your means? Gee, what a novel approach. This isn't about the federal government coming to the rescue for our roads and infrastructure improvements, this is OUR JOB. we need to produce the revenue or stop wasting that revenue we have on overpaid slugs who simply take from the taxpayers and contribute nothing. I challenge the County Council to trim the spending from the budget, stop promising to be able to fix all evils by spending money you don't have on hand, and be accountable to those who keep you in office. And by the way, public school children who can't read and write who learn little in the limited amount of time they spend in the classrooms, aren't going to benefit by more money being put into building robots. Stop spending on frivolity, teach reading and writing skills and you'll discover that these children are quite capable of finding their own solutions to building robots, building airplanes and getting to the moon! It has happened before and God willing it will again!

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