Rein in the spending

Maui County received some good news Friday when the state Legislature upped the counties’ share of the transient accommodations tax by $20 million.

While a cap remains in place, it has been upped from $93 million to $113 million. County mayors had sought elimination of the cap completely.

Mayor Alan Arakawa released a statement saying he was disappointed in the Legislature’s decision because he believes the money belongs to the counties. We agree with him but something is better than nothing.

The fight can be rejoined next year.

The other bit of good news is that Arakawa said the extra TAT money and “some creative cuts from the council” should obviate the need for a property tax increase.

Council Member Mike White had already announced he would be trying get Maui County’s spending down.

White, chairman of the Council’s Budget and Finance Committee, said last week that he would work to “find ways to trim the fat from the mayor’s budget proposal.”

The proposed county budget for next year represents a double-digit increase over the current one. The mayor proposed a $622 million budget – a $63 million (or 11.3 percent) increase.

As we pointed out last month in this space, Social Security recipients got a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase on Dec. 31. If the cost of living went up 1.5 percent, why is the cost of Maui County’s government going up at a rate of seven times that?

How many residents got 11.3 percent raises this year? How many businesses are projecting an 11.3 percent increase in revenues next year? The answer is very few.

Our leaders need to realize that double-digit increases in government spending are ridiculous – unsustainable and unsupportable.

It’s great that we got some extra TAT money, but we need to rein in county government’s spending.

Mr. White is right – there has to be some fat in there.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.