From the time President Barack Obama and the First Family arrive in Honolulu, Honolulu police officers are needed to provide back up for the Secret Service and a motorcade to get them wherever they need to go.In just over two weeks visiting Oahu, HPD says the overtime cost for the trip totaled more than $293,000. The city doesn’t get that money back from the federal government.
“To not get reimbursed is very difficult for us. We’re having a tough time financially,” Honolulu City Councilmember and Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi said.
Councilmember Kobayashi says the city has asked the federal government for money back for the president’s other visits and was turned down.
HPD says overtime costs for those ran anywhere from $200,000 to $250,000 each year. After five visits since taking office, the president has cost the city more than $1 million.
“It’s wonderful seeing them enjoying themselves here, but you know we are short of money. It’s like having children on vacation. We love taking them on vacation, but there’s all this money that we have to put out,” Councilmember Kobayashi said.
It’s money that the city can really use. Councilmember Kobayashi says the city budget is about $150 million short for the upcoming fiscal year. The overtime money can go back to HPD as well as the city’s operating budget.
“Can certainly help us and we can restore bus service. There are lots we can do. We’re trying to fix our sewers, repair the potholes,” Councilmember Kobayashi said.
Councilmember Kobayashi says she will speak with Mayor Kirk Caldwell about writing another letter to the federal government, asking for reimbursement — although other cities have tried and have not had much luck.