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Reject charter amendments on city finances


POSTED:



In two separate amendment proposals, Honolulu voters are being asked to create special funds to be spent for specific purposes, and to funnel general city revenues to nonprofit organizations to make up for federal cutbacks. Neither of the proposed changes to the City Charter have enough rationale behind them so should be rejected.

In various areas, the city already spends various fee revenues to help pay for logical purposes, such as golf fees, Honolulu Zoo proceeds and bus fares. It generally needs more revenue to pay what is needed, in which case the mayor recommends that the City Council direct the additional funds to keep the operations going under a normal budgetary process.

A proposed amendment to the charter would allow the Council to authorize the special funds collected from licenses, fees, taxes and other sources to be "set aside and expended for their intended public purposes," without the mayor's recommendation. Council Chairman Ernest Martin has said that Mayor Peter Carlisle's proposal to raise the fuel tax carried no assurance that it would go to paying for road improvements.

Mike Hansen, Carlisle's budget and fiscal services director, points out that the City Council's unilateral creation of special funds could result in proliferation of them, creating inflexibility in the budget process when the city "should use the least amount of individual funds as possible."

We concur. Hansen also noted that accountability already exists for special funds such as highway, sewer and housing development funds.

Lowell L. Kalapa of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii has commented that instead of the Charter amendment providing transparency of city fiances, "these special funds hold the potential for making sure taxpayers don't know what's going on with their tax dollars." Approval of the amendment would result in these funds being "used to obscure how elected officials are handling your money," he warned, rightfully.

The other proposed City Charter amendment would require that at least half of 1 percent of annual general fund revenues be given as grants to federal income-tax nonprofit organizations to provide services for needy residents. The proposal stems from the Council's concern about community development grants by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Honolulu having dwindled from $14.5 million in fiscal year 2010 to $11.9 million in fiscal 2012.

Hansen estimated that the 0.5 percent appropriation — totaling about $5 million a year — could result in cuts to city services. Though well-intended in the desire to aid nonprofits, such off-the-top generosity by the city can't be seen as a smart fiscal move while the country continues to recover from the recession.

This is no time for the City Council to try proliferating special funds from the next mayor, or to try to make up for federal shortfalls at the expense of basic city services. As much as possible, the integrity and accountability of the city budgeting process should be based on annual justification and be kept intact.






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MalamaKaAina wrote:
Vote NO no all four questions!
on October 29,2012 | 01:47AM
Larry01 wrote:
There are only two. Maybe you're including the two STATE constitution questions? Those are good ideas, though - what do you have against the STATE questions?
on October 29,2012 | 09:24AM
bikemom wrote:
Or in the words of Michael W. Perry, "No, no, no and no."
on October 29,2012 | 10:31AM
loquaciousone wrote:
SMOKE AND MIRRORS, is what our government is evolving into by narcisstic politicians that believe that ONLY THEY know what's good for US. (( 'er)*^(^^l... ???
on October 29,2012 | 03:20AM
false wrote:
Hey that's my line. But right on!
on October 29,2012 | 07:10PM
Kalli wrote:
I was going to vote against it but if the SA doesn't want it then I will vote for it.
on October 29,2012 | 05:21AM
palani wrote:
Not me. For once, the Star=Advertiser gets it right. But your advice is good for all of the editors' other political endorsements, Kalli.
on October 29,2012 | 06:36AM
soundofreason wrote:
I understand your knee jerk reaction BUT....."The other proposed City Charter amendment would require that at least half of 1 percent of annual general fund revenues be given as grants to federal income-tax nonprofit organizations to provide services for needy residents"

I give to the United Way and I DON'T appreciate MANDATED donations being MISmanaged by govt in addition to what I already give WITHOUT their fingers being in the pot.


on October 29,2012 | 07:14AM
false wrote:
You that one right brother. Hope everyone see it also.
on October 29,2012 | 09:50AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Kalli, people who think like you should not be allowed to vote. Whatever happened to having the courage of your convictions?
on October 29,2012 | 10:01AM
FreeRadical wrote:
Obviously kalli flip flops just as much as the Red Star Advertiser.
on October 30,2012 | 10:10AM
control wrote:
So why hasn't the SA done it's job to educate the public about all of the amendments? Most voters don't even know they exist until they get to their polling place or fill in their absentee ballots. Other amendments seem okay until you look closely at the wording. The one about judges only allows selection of those who retired due to age 70 and not those who retired due to other reasons. As for special funds, I can see instances where a special fund would be of great benefit. to an agency. The problem with the amendments is the political aspect of the council and mayor. They are all poorly written.
on October 29,2012 | 05:34AM
palani wrote:
I recall that the Star-Advertiser included an extensive voter information supplement in one of its recent editions, so you cannot fault them. Also the League of Women Voters is a reliable reference source: [http://www.lwv-hawaii.com/]
on October 29,2012 | 06:41AM
palani wrote:
Here's the Star-Advertiser guide: http://elections.staradvertiser.com/cifw/election12
on October 29,2012 | 06:44AM
Malani wrote:
No matter how it is worded the monies will still go to where they want it to go.
on October 29,2012 | 07:45AM
bender wrote:
re: special funds. This is something Carlisle and Martin cooked up. They were fearful Cayetano would become Mayor so they decided to try to tie upr the rail fund so the future City Council and Mayor couldn't redirect those monies.
on October 29,2012 | 05:55AM
Jireton wrote:
Carlisle has stated unequivocally that he is opposed to the charter amendments. Nice try, Bender.
on October 29,2012 | 08:50AM
Imagen wrote:
What Carlisle says and what he does are totally different. He is just saying what he thinks people want to hear - so full of it.
on October 29,2012 | 10:52AM
allie wrote:
yup
on October 29,2012 | 10:15AM
Papakolea wrote:
The solution is NOT to create new legislation to allow the council to create special funds. The solution is to fix the existing legislation to prevent the administration from using special fund monies for anything other than its intended purpose.
on October 29,2012 | 05:57AM
allie wrote:
well put.
on October 29,2012 | 10:41AM
CriticalReader wrote:
Yes, yes, no more money to ANYTHING except rail.
on October 29,2012 | 06:26AM
Highinthesierras wrote:
How is it that we vote these kind of proposals down and yet elect pols who waste our tax dollars and do everything possible to make Hawaii the most difficult state in the US to make a living? See money-rates.com
on October 29,2012 | 06:31AM
Malani wrote:
Because they know we are surrounded by a body of water and therefore will tell you it cost money to bring the goods in.
on October 29,2012 | 07:49AM
AmbienDaze wrote:
then get a waiver or get rid of the Jones Act.
on October 29,2012 | 11:06AM
honolulugal wrote:
Why is all the info about these amendments coming so late after absentee voting has already started? Thousands have already voted. There is no more just one election day,
on October 29,2012 | 07:41AM
Malani wrote:
Excellent artical SA. Voting NO.
on October 29,2012 | 07:42AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
NO

NO

NO

NO

This is one case where being negative is actually positive. Don't let the weasels do more weaseling.


on October 29,2012 | 08:16AM
Ewaduffer wrote:
If you have to read a proposed amendment over and over to make sure you understand it you know somebody is trying to pull a fast one on the voters. The previous two so called "Rail" issues voted on in the past were classic examples of muddy wording instead of having a clearly worded simple yes or no up or down vote on the the rail project.
on October 29,2012 | 08:37AM
Masami wrote:
"The other proposed City Charter amendment would require that at least half of 1 percent of annual general fund revenues be given as grants to federal income-tax nonprofit organizations to provide services for needy residents. " "Hansen estimated that the 0.5 percent appropriation — totaling about $5 million a year — could result in cuts to city services. Though well-intended in the desire to aid nonprofits, such off-the-top generosity by the city can't be seen as a smart fiscal move while the country continues to recover from the recession." CORRECTION.....the way I read it it states "at least half of 1 percent" which puts the 0.5 percent appropriation (or around $5 million/year) as THE FLOOR. Its potentially WAY MORE than that.
on October 29,2012 | 10:33AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Can I vote yes but with reservations?
on October 29,2012 | 01:38PM
WesleySMori wrote:
Yes "LOQUACIOUSONE"!!!!! "YES", "BUT WITH RESERVATIONS"!!!!:-)>!!!!!! "GOD BLESS HAWAII & AMERICA"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
on October 29,2012 | 04:25PM
localguy wrote:
Here we go again, little 4th world rag, SA, thinking it knows best for voters. When will newspapers realize by journalism standards you do not try to influence people. Especially with the unions and bureaucrats owning the SA cub reporters, telling them what to write. A real quality paper would simply show both sides of the issue in fair and impartial writing, allowing the reader to decide. Funny how this never got to the Editor in chief, I mean senior cub reporter. Give us a break!
on October 29,2012 | 03:25PM
from_da_cheapseats wrote:
Totally agree. Has the council no SHAME? How do they slip onto the ballot something so generally worded as to hide the intent: slush fund. Pork barrell. Where was Tom Berg on this one? He'd establish his credential for independence if he backed this. Finally, Ask Ernie Martin if, when he makes it to mayor, which he thinks he can, he won't try to take this away from the council and put it back into his control.
on October 30,2012 | 09:49AM
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