VIDEO: Mayor Tavares says she will not sign the Council’s version of the FY 2011 budget

June 8, 2010, 4:45 PM HST · Updated December 21, 7:32 AM
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By Wendy Osher

Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares today said she will not sign the council’s version of the 2011 budget, saying the council showed disregard for the departments’ financial and operating knowledge and expertise.

“It will become law without my signature or endorsement, as provided for in the charter,” said Tavares.

“I cannot sign a document that represents a lack of understanding of the why and how of county government,” she said.

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Tavares said the action taken during the council proceedings, “showed a complete disregard for the financial and operating knowledge and expertise that department heads and their staffs have.”

“Many decisions were made by the council based on emotion rather than on fact and a clear understanding of potential impacts to the community,” said Tavares.

Tavares called remarks made by council members during passage of the 2011 budget, “deceptive, seriously misleading and so flawed that they warrant responses.”

“Department executives and experienced staff are capable of providing meaningful, necessary, and legally required public services to our community of over 140,000 residents on three islands.  Yet the council chose to ignore this valuable experience and expertise and cut an additional $1 million from the budge,” said Tavares who had already cut $15.2 in her version of the budget.

Over the past three years, the Mayor’s fiscal implementation team asked departments to cut expenses.  Since 2009 under the mayor’s direction Tavares said, the Department of Housing and Human Concerns budget had been reduced by nearly $3 million; The Fire Department by nearly $1 million; Parks and Recreation by over $2 million; Planning Department by close to $1.5 million; Public Works by over $3 million; and the Mayor’s office by over $3 million.

Tavares criticized Council Chair Danny Mateo of being “reckless” by apparently suggesting that slush funds exist within the administration.

“I don’t know why he chose to use that term.  This is an irresponsible and serious accusation, and it falsely misleads the public into thinking that we don’t know how to manage their tax dollars,” said Tavares.  Attempts were made to contact Chair Mateo for a response, but the Molokai Councilman was not available at the time of this posting.

“Our county’s budget is a program budget, which means there is flexibility to manage resources where and when those resources are necessary to meet changing conditions.  It also means it can be used for salaries, operating expenses and equipment,” said Tavares.  “Slush funds do not exist in the administration’s budget,” she said.

Tavares called the council’s actions “over reached” saying, “the council attempted to compare local government with a business… The council appears to be on a mission to downsize the county government without recognizing the impacts to the people in our county’s three islands,” said Tavares.

Tavares also criticized the council’s unanimous decision not to fund the Assistant Fire Chief position at full capacity.  “The council’s approval of only 6 months of funding demonstrated their lack of understanding of the role this Chief plays to support the communities of Maui, Molokai and Lanai,” said Tavares.

“The Fire Department received the largest cuts from the Council at a time when our county is in distress from severe drought conditions, the worst in 30 years,” said Tavares.

Tavares has 20 days to decide what to do with the budget ordinance.  She said she does not plan to sign it.  The complete video along with the Mayor’s comments on job elimination are included in the video above.

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