White: “Sufficient Funds Exist” for Continued Trash Service
By Wendy Osher
Councilman Mike White has asserted that sufficient funds exist for continued trash service following a Sept. 10 announcement by Mayor Alan Arakawa and Council Chair Gladys Baisa that solid waste service would resume despite a lack of funding from the County Council.
The announcement also comes on the heels of heated debate between Mayor Arakawa and Budget Committee Chair White, who lashed out at each other via press releases last week over the ability to carry out the restoration under the current budget.
“I am pleased to hear that landfill hours and holiday trash pick-up will be restored,” said White in a press release statement this afternoon. “These services are vital to the lives of our residents and businesses. I appreciate the public’s patience and dedication of our front line solid waste employees for their continual hard work in a situation,” that White said, “could have been avoided.”
The mayor plans to rescind an amendment he submitted last week that sought funding of additional personnel, but said he would be submitting a new amendment after the election had passed to ensure the department can continue to operate. The mayor said the move is “not the most fiscally prudent strategy,” but one that he offered to avoid any further “political agendas” and “bickering.”
White contends that “cutting services should only be a last resort, not the first.” He said, “The administration used non-compliance fines as the reason for cutting services and the need for additional resources, but they have not had any violations since 2011. The county is early in the fiscal year and the department should have sufficient funds to fully operate. They received from the Council 99% of what they requested,” according to White.
According to data released by the mayor, the county has already paid more than $560,000 in non-compliance fines imposed by the state Department of Health. Arakawa said the fines could have been avoided if funding was allocated for specific positions needed to perform landfill functions. He said that if the council does not approve the budget amendment that he plans to submit early next year, “the department will run out of money and all landfill operations and regular trash pick-up for everyone in the county will again be impacted.”
White responded saying, “If the department can explain and justify the necessity for more resources, I am always willing to listen and work cooperatively with the administration. I will not, however, support requests for additional funding when it is unnecessary.”