City budget passes without Mayor Caldwell's signature
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell allowed the city budget to pass Friday without his signature.
He expressed displeasure with several parts of the budget as passed by the Honolulu City Council, including the rejection of his fuel-tax increase and a provision for releasing money from the vacant position fund.
"I looked at vetoing the budget," Mayor Caldwell stated Friday. "But in the end of the day, I believe that wouldn't be in the best interest of the taxpayer. So I returned the budget, unsigned, with a very detailed letter explaining my position."
In that letter, Mayor Caldwell stated that with the Council not adopting his fuel tax rate increase, estimated to generate $15 million, and the addition of $10- $11 million in grants-to-aid creates an imbalance that was to be addressed by money from the vacant position fund.
He said using that money, allocated for the hiring of workers for now vacant positions within city departments, would be detrimental to the people of Honolulu as it would cause delays and gaps in vital city services.
"My concern is that this budget that has been passed may have a negative impact on some of those core services," Mayor Caldwell added.
The vacant position fund currently holds $65 million. Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi said that the current money in that fund is sufficient for its purpose.
The mayor also added that because of the uncertainty of the pending police and fire department contracts, it makes getting a final number within the current budget more difficult to obtain.
The Council added a provision within the budget that requires the mayoral administration to notify the Council whenever money is being used from the vacant position fund. Normally the mayoral administration has the ability to move funds from the account at will, without prior notification.
"All they have to do now is be more accountable. Because now when they move that money, they have to report to us and tell us where they are moving it to ... I don't know what the problem is." Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi stated. She added that it just adds a level of transparency and that it is simply a notification process, not an approval process.
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