Budget director: Maui County is able to pay bills

Crew worked over weekend; council budget reports still under review

The fiscal 2020 budget, which took effect Monday, was successfully rolled into Maui County’s finance system, county administration officials said.

There was some concern by Mayor Michael Victorino’s Budget and Finance Department staffs over budget implementation after receiving requested budget details from the Maui County Council late Friday afternoon. Victorino and his staff had been asking the council for weeks for the information.

His staff worked through Sunday night to ensure the budget would be ready to go Monday.

Budget Director Michele Yoshimura said Monday afternoon that there were no glitches and that the county departments will able to process payments.

“But we are still reviewing the budget by fund,” she said.

She added that there may be a need for budget amendments to be brought to the council.

The mayor’s administration said it needed specific information on the $823.5 million budget the council approved, the largest budget in county history and $43 million more than the mayor’s proposal.

The information sought, which traditionally has been provided by the council to the mayor, is a spreadsheet showing specific cuts and additions made to the budget initially proposed by the mayor. It is not required by law but has served as a guide to the administration for at least two decades.

In an email Monday, council Budget and Economic Development Committee Chairwoman Keani Rawlins-Fernandez said: “Throughout the budget session, the council consistently focused on the content of the budget ordinance, which is the legally binding, formally adopted vehicle for our county’s operational funds. If appropriations for programs or projects do not include provisos or other restrictive language, the departments have the flexibility to use their funds as they see fit.”

The county auditor recommended that the administration could submit budget amendments if needing more information, per the process established by the County Charter. The budget chairwoman welcomed amendments.

“We look forward to continuing to work toward collaboration,” Rawlins-Fernandez added.

The administration has said that if no specific details were provided with the budget, it would have to “assume” what the council changes and intents were. They added that the additional information was needed to input into its financial software, which acts as a safeguard for use of county taxpayer money.

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


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