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Maui County Mayor Allows Budget Passage Without Signature

Casey Harlow

WAILUKU — The Maui County mayor has announced he will allow the $822.6 million budget for the upcoming year to go into effect without his signature.

Mayor Michael Victorino cited objections to higher trash and landfill fees and cuts to department budgets in his decision not to sign the budget, The Maui News reported  Saturday.

The Maui County Council passed the budget for fiscal year 2020-2021 that will be in effect July 1 through June 30, 2021.

The council cut $47.2 million from Victorino's original $869.8 million budget proposal.

Vice Chairwoman Keani Rawlins-Fernandez said council members had "hard choices to make to offset an over $53 million projected revenue shortfall due to the pandemic," including the loss of $24 million in transient accommodation tax revenue from the state.

"It is a bit disheartening that the mayor chose not to cross the finish line together," Rawlins-Fernandez said.

Victorino's proposed property tax rates would have provided relief for hotels, resorts and short-term vacation rentals, allowing them to provide employee payroll and medical insurance assistance, he said.

Victorino said he had concerns about rate increases for residential trash collection and landfill fees that could create "undue financial burden during this time."

He objected to the removal of some operational funds and two positions for the Central Maui Landfill Sunday green waste program, which began four months ago to provide an additional day of disposal services to residents.

Victorino also noted the council's reduction of his funding proposal for the Maui County Visitors Association from $3.5 million to $1.5 million.

Victorino proposed lower property tax rates for "predominantly offshore business interests such as hotels, resorts and short-term rentals," while the council instead on lowering property tax rates for homeowners and local businesses including the rate on hotels, Rawlins-Fernandez said.

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