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City Council OKs $2 billion operating budget

A $2.16 billion operating budget for the upcoming 2014 fiscal year was approved by the Honolulu City Council this afternoon.

The budget is about $72 million more than the one submitted by Mayor Kirk Caldwell in March. But city officials said of that amount, $70 million reflects the revenue anticipated from the sale of the city’s affordable housing stock to a private entity. That money is to be spent paying off loans related to the original development of those projects.

The budget includes no increases in property tax rates and nearly all fees will remain the same. 

Caldwell’s proposal to increase the city’s at-the-pump fuel tax was soundly rejected earlier.

The vote was 8-0. Councilwoman Kymberly Pine was absent, citing unspecified health reasons.

Following lengthy debate, the Council voted to allow about $8 million in grants to nonprofit organizations that its members proposed despite strong objections from Caldwell and reservations raised by some colleagues.

In a new twist, the Council voted to create two accounts to deal with $70 million in undesignated dollars assigned to deal with salary issues – one for vacant funded positions and one for other salary adjustments.

The administration opposed the change.

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