Council approves $2B budget for Honolulu

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The Honolulu City Council approved a budget of more than $2 billion for the upcoming fiscal year.

It includes all the money Mayor Kirk Caldwell wanted for sewer and road work.

The eight Honolulu City Council members who attended Wednesday’s meeting gave the go-ahead for Caldwell’s first operating budget as mayor.

“So the really good news is that I believe these five core priorities that pertain to core government services are alive and well in this budget,” Mayor Caldwell said.

Those priorities include restoring bus services, improving parks and fixing roads.

The mayor is disappointed in the council’s decision to allow more than $8 million in grants to non-profits. It’s a small but heavily scrutinized part of the budget.

“It’s not a little bit of money. It’s a lot of money, yes, the budget is larger but $8 million can go to do a lot of things in our core services,” Mayor Caldwell said.

“It’s important to invest in infrastructure and our roads and sewers but it’s also important to invest in our youth by supporting these non-profit groups,” Honolulu City Councilmember Ann Kobayashi said.

The budget includes $70 million to fill vacant city positions and for salary increases.

“No administration has spent that much for added salary increases and yet that is what they wanted and so we gave it to them instead of putting the money into other funds,” Councilmember Kobayashi said.

The mayor complained there are restrictions to how many is spent. He also said his office didn’t receive the draft of this budget until Tuesday afternoon and had very little time to review it.

One important note for Oahu residents: The council agreed not to raise the property or fuel tax.

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