Council eyes $559 million county budget

WAILUKU – The Maui County Council’s Budget and Finance Committee on Friday night reached a consensus on a $559 million budget for the next fiscal year – $15 million less than Mayor Alan Arakawa’s proposed $574 million budget but $8 million more than committee Chairman Mike White’s $551 million plan.

Around 10:10 p.m., the committee after several hours of deliberation finally reached consensus on a real property tax rate schedule for next fiscal year that kept rates flat for the residential classification – people with second homes that often used them as rentals- but increased rates at different levels for all other classifications from a low of 5 cents to a high of 25 cents per $1,000 of net taxable assessed valuation.

The residential rate will remain the same at $5.75. Apartment will go from $6.20 to $6.40; commercial from $6.90 to $7.05; industrial from $7.10 to $7.30; agriculture from $6 to $6.05; conservation from $6.20 to $6.25; hotel and resort from $9.15 to $9.40; time share from $15.50 to $15.55; homeowner from $2.75 to $2.87 and commercial residential from $4.50 to $4.60.

Throughout the evening, there appeared to be a split among members on rates for homeowners and hotel and resorts, with some council members supporting general across-the-board increases with others placing higher burdens on homeowners and hotels.

Members worked to come up with $4.5 million for the $559 million budget.

The committee is expected to formally vote on its proposals at 2:30 p.m. Monday in Council Chambers.

On Monday, White had proposed a basically flat budget that cut all proposed expansion positions, held grants to nonprofits at their current levels and trimmed funding for programs showing savings from the current fiscal year.

During deliberations this week, council members restored some funding, beginning with a 3 percent hike in funding for most nonprofit groups.

The committee restored some of the personnel requests in Arakawa’s budget – 29 positions in all. Arakawa had requested 52 1/2 positions.

Besides the property tax increases, the committee came up with cuts and fee increases. The committee agreed to increase water rates per Arakawa’s plan by about 5 percent. Single-family homes would see increases of 5 cents to up to 40 cents per 1,000 gallons used, depending on the volume of water used. Agricultural rates would rise 5 cents per 1,000 gallons for all tiers of usage. All other general water consumers would see 5 to 15 cent increases per 1,000 gallon used, also depending on water consumed.

The committee raised tipping fees at the landfill from $61 per ton to $65.60, slightly lower than Arakawa’s proposal to raise the fee to $75 per ton.

The committee also agreed to shave some funds from road-paving programs.

Also tentatively approved was the establishment of a $30 monthly Maui Bus pass for disabled citizens.

The committee was working under an internal Friday deadline to finish its proposed budget. The council has until June 10 to pass a budget or the mayor’s budget will take effect.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at