WAILUKU - The Maui County Council gave final approval of a $559 million county budget Thursday, which includes $471 million for operating expenses and $88 million for capital improvement projects.
Attached to the budget that goes into effect July 1 is an across-the-board, 5 percent hike in water rates as well as various property tax rate increases in most categories.
The budget advances to Mayor Alan Arakawa, who has indicated that he will sign off on the spending plan, said county spokesman Rod Antone.
"I think we've come up with a responsible budget," council Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Mike White told council members at the meeting.
During his committee's deliberations, White advocated keeping nonprofit funding flat as well as not creating new job positions in the county. But in the end, most nonprofits received a funding increase and some new job positions are in the upcoming budget.
White added that there were some "very spirited discussions" during the committee's deliberations, but it was able to put in funding for many road improvements, funds for planning and design for a new Kahului Community Center as well as money to repair Kalakupua playground in Haiku.
Council Chairwoman Gladys Baisa said that the council puts its "heart and soul" into the budget process and said "not everyone gets what they want."
She added that there is a lot of give and take in the process, and there are too many needs to accommodate everyone.
"Please cut us a little slack," she added.
All seven council members present at the regular council meeting in Council Chambers on Thursday voted in favor of the proposed budget. Members Riki Hokama and Mike Victorino were absent and excused.
The fiscal 2014 budget contains a 3-percent, across-the-board increase in funding for most nonprofit organizations.
The council established a new monthly bus pass fee for people with physician-certified disabilities. This group will pay $30 a month for fixed-route passes. Currently, disabled riders may pay $45 a month for general boarding passes.
For property taxes, council members decided that only those in the residential real property tax classification would not see a tax rate increase. That group usually includes second homes used as rentals.
Homeowners will see a 12-cent increase in property tax rates from $2.75 to $2.87 per $1,000 of net taxable assessed valuation. Hotel/resort taxpayers will see the greatest tax rate increase - 25 cents more from $9.15 to $9.40 per $1,000 of net taxable assessed value.
Other increases vary from 5 cents to 20 cents per $1,000.
In other council matters:
* Members approved a resolution approving Victorino as presiding officer pro tempore of the Maui County Council, in case of the absence of both the chairwoman and vice chairman, Baisa and Bob Carroll, respectively.
* Members recommended referring a resolution by Hokama - to urge the president and U.S. Congress to preserve the current tax-exempt status of municipal bonds - to the council's Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.