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Maui County Council passes $1 billion budget, partially thanks to increased revenues

Casey Harlow / HPR

The Maui County Council passed a $1 billion budget on Wednesday, the largest budget ever seen by the county.

“First of all, I thought I never lived to see the day we would have a $1 billion budget, but it is what it is,” Councilmember Mike Molina said. “Everything goes up in price and the community members have a right to ask for certain considerations that they feel are needed for a better, more quality county and better lives for us here in Maui County.”

That's partially thanks to increased revenues from its real property tax division and county-run transient accommodations tax.

Vice Chair Keani Rawlins-Fernandez chaired the council’s budget committee, leading hours-long discussions dissecting Mayor Mike Victorino's proposed budget and questioning department heads.

Some of this came in the way of $7 million for workforce housing efforts, $3 million in agriculture microgrants, and over $3 million for traffic safety improvements.

In March, Victorino submitted a $1.187 billion budget. Over the course of discussions, the council ultimately crafted a $1.069 billion budget.

The next fiscal year will have a decreased real property tax rate for full-time residents. Rawlins-Fernandez says long-term tax plans ensure funding for county services.

“The council set property taxes to lessen the burden on long-term residents and moderately increased rates in classifications directly linked to tourism, an industry that was developed to make life better for our residents,” Rawlins-Fernandez said. “This long projected policy-driven tax scheme set in motion in 2019 is intended to steer towards striking a balance between transient accommodations and quality of life for residents."

The upcoming budget also sets aside $54 million for a Native Hawaiian arts center — and a quarter of a million dollars to its affordable housing fund to develop a plan to address homelessness.

The budget now goes to Victorino for approval. The fiscal year begins July 1.

Sabrina Bodon was Hawaiʻi Public Radio's government reporter.
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