Mayor Objects to Portions of 2016 Council Budget
By Wendy Osher
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa is vetoing a portion of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget that was passed by the County Council on June 5, 2015.
In a letter sent to County Clerk Danny Mateo on Friday, Mayor Arakawa identified a portion of the budget that he wishes to line-item veto, and reasons for his objections.
Mayor Arakawa said he objects to the restriction imposed by the language added to the General Budget Provisions. “Specifically, the binding policy statement to restrict disbursements for each program by category of use; provided that the disbursement is within the program and category of use for which it was appropriated.”
He further explains that the language states that, “any transfer from one program to another, or one category of use to another shall be authorized by Council resolution, and any transfer from one department to another shall be authorized by ordinance.”
Mayor Arakawa described the policy as “antiquated and inefficient,” and said it would “create unnecessary paperwork.” He further described the policy as “extremely cumbersome,” and said the process, “could even impact public safety in the event of an emergency.”
“The type of congestion these restrictions would create in the day-to-day operations of each county department is exactly the reason that the county moved away from this obsolete practice 20 years ago,” said Mayor Arakawa.
According to Arakawa, there is already modernized software that allows for updated reporting on how each department spends its funding.
“For these reasons, and because I believe in moving our county forward, not backward, I am vetoing this portion of the FY 2016 budget,” said Mayor Arakawa.
Council Chair Mike White responded to our request for comment saying, “I am puzzled by the mayor’s actions. If he truly was in favor of fiscal responsibility and accountability he would agree with the council.” He continued claiming that the administration wants less accountability in spending.
“Recent alleged financial improprieties both in the Public Works and Parks Departments raise serious concerns on the administration having adequate spending controls in place. It will also ease the ongoing crisis and confusion in the operations of the Solid waste Division, including constant threats of layoffs. Departments can no longer use salary monies for operations or contracts,” said White.
Other items that the mayor said he had concerns with but will not object to in the form of a veto include lack of support for long-term improvement programs developed by the departments of Parks & Recreation and Water Supply.
He said the council’s action to reduce fees and “add millions of dollars in an unspecified plan” is not consistent with a long-term strategy, and he said, “may further exacerbate the water challenges in various communities.”
He said that, “by not adequately addressing equipment replacements such as vehicles,” the needs will have to be addressed in the future at what he called, “an escalated cost.”
White responded in an email communication to Maui Now saying, “The council is trying to bring accuracy and transparency to county budgeting. It is still a program budget, but it holds the administration to their own proposed expenditure limits for salaries, operations and equipment. It is important and appropriate for the council as the county’s policymaker, to ensure taxpayers that adequate controls are in place,” he said.
“All the council is asking is that the administration spend their funds as budgeted. It is a very simple concept,” said White.
The council is scheduled to take up discussion on the mayor’s proposed line item veto on Monday. The budget is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2015.