Victorino offers first budget, only 3 percent more

Proposal includes trash, water hikes; landfill opening a Sunday per month

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino addresses County Council members, department directors and others Monday in discussing his proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. RYAN PIROS photos

WAILUKU — Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino proposed Monday a $781 million no-frills budget for the next fiscal year, which includes property tax, trash pickup and water rate increases; additional property tax money for affordable housing; and opening the Central Maui Landfill one Sunday per month, but it contains no new major capital improvement initiatives.

“This is our budget, this is not my budget. Now, it goes to you and it’s your budget, but it is still the people’s budget,” Victorino told council members, who were among those in attendance at a news conference Monday in the Mayor’s Conference Room.

Victorino’s budget for fiscal 2020, which begins July 1, is a $22.5 million increase or 3 percent more than the County Council-approved budget for the current fiscal year of $758.3 million.

It is much less than the $820 million budget proposed by Mayor Alan Arakawa in his last fiscal year, which was pared down by the council.

Including revolving and special funds, fund transfers, and expected grant and other outside revenue, the proposed budget total for fiscal 2020 is $869.5 million.

County Council members listen to Mayor Michael Victorino discuss his proposed budget Monday in the Mayor’s Conference Room. Shown are (from left) Tasha Kama, Alice Lee, Shane Sinenci and Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, who chairs the council budget committee.

The mayor, presenting his first budget, listed his spending priorities as providing funds for operational costs for health, safety and public service; completion of ongoing projects and fulfilling health and retirement benefit obligations for current and retired employees.

The mayor is seeking to divert another 1 percent or an additional $3.37 million of property tax revenues to the Affordable Housing Fund. This would bring the allocation to 3 percent or a total of $10.1 million.

He also is working to open the Central Maui Landfill, which currently operates Monday to Saturday, one Sunday per month. The landfill used to be open every day but was closed on Sundays during the Great Recession. Residents who use the dump would like to have another weekend day to make drop-offs.

Other expenditure proposals include:

• $22.1 million for social services.

• $26.9 million in housing assistance, which includes Section 8 federal housing vouchers.

• $2.25 million for a land purchase in Hana for conservation, recreation, historical and cultural benefits.

• $4 million for coqui frog eradication and environmental protection.

The administration also will focus on Upcountry and other “dire” countywide roadway improvements with $35.7 million.

Victorino said he proposes adding 55 county employee positions, which include the reinstatement of the Cadet Program for the Maui Police Department; interns for the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney and an economic specialist in the field on technology.

On the revenue side, Victorino is seeking property tax increases for commercial, industrial, hotel and resort and short-term rental classifications. He also is seeking a decrease for timeshare rates.

Increases in some rates and fees are proposed, including the solid waste landfill tipping fee, which would rise from $97 per ton to $103 per ton, and the residential refuse collection rates up $1 a month from $32 to $33.

Wastewater-sewer fees would increase an average of 6 percent with water fees increasing an average of 3 percent.

There also is a proposal to impose a new 12 cent per gallon tax on biodiesel. County Council Chairwoman Kelly King owns Pacific Biodiesel with her husband.

Following the news conference, both King and council budget committee Chairwoman Keani Rawlins-Fernandez said it was difficult to comment on the mayor’s budget without a thorough review of the proposal. But King said the $869 million total “seems high.”

King and Rawlins-Fernandez were disappointed that the administration did not respond to Rawlins-Fernandez’s suggestion to meet to discuss the council’s new approach to the budget.

This includes streamlining the process by scheduling to end budget meetings at 5 p.m., identifying fixed costs and spending less time on those items, discussing priorities and increases or decreases in the budget.

A workshop on understanding the budget and process will be held with committee members at the next Economic Development and Budget Committee meeting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Council Chambers.

Rawlins-Fernandez said budget deliberations will begin April 1. The Maui County Council has until June 10 to take action on the budget; otherwise the mayor’s proposal becomes law.

The proposed budget can be found at www.mauicounty.gov/DocumentCenter/Index/4774.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

*****

Proposed Real Property Tax Rates

Here are the rates as proposed by Mayor Michael Victorino for the 2020 fiscal year that begins July 1. The rates are only one component of the amount property owners pay. Property taxes are calculated by dividing the net taxable value of a property by 1,000 and then multiplying that by the tax rate in its property classification. The county says total property valuations are up 5 percent this year.

The following chart lists the property classifications, current rates and proposed fiscal 2020 rates.

• Homeowner. $2.85, $2.85.

• Commercialized Residential. $4.55, $4.55.

• Residential. $5.52, $5.52.

• Agricultural. $6, $6.

• Apartment. $6.31, $6.31.

• Conservation. $6.35, $6.35.

• Commercial. $7.25, $7.39.

• Industrial. $7.45, $7.48.

• Short Term Rental. $9.28, $9.55.

• Hotel & Resort. $9.37, $9.60.

• Timeshare. $15.41, $13.93.

*****

Proposed Capital Improvement Projects

The projects listed below are on the proposed CIP list for fiscal year 2020 that begins July 1.

• West Maui recycled water system expansion, $11 million.

• Countywide road resurfacing and pavement preservation, $5.7 million.

• War Memorial complex paving improvements, $2.75 million.

• Kaupakalua Road pavement reconstruction, $2.25 million.

• South Kihei Road sidewalks improvements, $1.9 million.

COMMENTS