The Honolulu City Council conducted a special budget committee meeting on the executive branch financial plan today. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.
The Honolulu City Council Budget Committee reviewed the Mayor’s proposed 2.6 billion dollar operating budget for fiscal year 2019. Committee Chair, Trevor Ozawa, recommended an increase in funding for the Department of Planning and Permitting.
“We add 6 positions as well and amend the description to read: at least $400-thousand out of salaries shall be appropriated to hire housing, zoning code inspectors for the enforcement of existing restrictions on illegal transient vacation units in neighborhoods throughout O’ahu.”
The Department of Facility Maintenance also received half a million dollars and 10 crew positions to clean and maintain city-owned and private streams and flood control structures. But, DFM director and chief engineer, Ross Sasamura, asked for 500-thousand dollars more to retain consultants to process required storm-water permits with the Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Health Clean Water Branch.
“There’s no permit for manual work, but the issue we have is that, if we have to put equipment in the water, then we have to have a permit. When you look at the hundreds of streams that we’re actually responsible for, island-wide, if we had to put a man in every stream, we won’t be able to keep out. So equipment is a necessary part of our work.”
Ozawa increased DFM’s storm mitigation and recovery funding to 1 million dollars. City Managing Director, Roy Amemiya, praised budget committee members and staff for restoring funding. He also agreed with the chair’s decision to fund the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation rail transit recovery plan which must be approved by the Federal Transit Administration.
“We are supportive of the plan to fund the $44 million. Of course, we are concerned that the FTA needs to approve the recovery plan and we understand that Council has had discussions with the FTA recently, and that they are okay with the 44-million. So we support putting the money in the HART budget.”
Other funding increases include 2.5 million dollars for the City’s Emergency Medical Services to staff two additional ambulance units, and, one million dollars for the Department of Transportation Services complete streets program which includes a bike lane on Pensacola Street. Ozawa also restored personnel funding for O’ahu Transit Services, which operates the Bus. He said he was providing the money even though no one from OTS appeared before the Budget Committee to testify.
“The lucky bus. Never showed up but we’re still giving them a hundred thousand dollars restoration in current expenses for a full restoration, there, in that provision for vacant positions.”
The Budget Committee approved the changes for Bill 15 -- the Mayor’s operating budget -- which now goes before the full City Council for a final public hearing and vote, June 6th. Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.