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Kauai furlough day erased

By Rosemarie Bernardo

POSTED:



Kauai County canceled the first Furlough Friday of the year after saving and raising funds to stave off furloughs for the fiscal year.

County employees are due to report to work on Friday. Meanwhile, the administration is awaiting approval from the Kauai County Council to eliminate the remaining 11 furlough days in fiscal year 2011.

Council members are expected to make a final vote on Bill 2389 on Jan. 26. If the bill is approved, Kauai County would still need to reach an agreement with unions to end furloughs.

The cost-saving measures included last year's furloughs, no pay raises for unionized employees, and deferred pay raises for Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and other department heads - with the exception of Police Chief Darryl Perry, Fire Chief Robert Westerman and County Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho.

Furloughs were projected to save Kauai County $4.6 million for fiscal year 2011. So far, about $2.3 million was saved from 12 furlough days from July to December, according to spokeswoman Mary Daubert.

Travel expenses for each department were also cut by half in fiscal year 2010 over fiscal year 2009.

A $12 county motor vehicle registration fee was implemented for the first time on Kauai last year to boost revenue. Fees for vehicle transfer, duplicate titles and corrections increased to $5 from $3. Officials also raised the driver's licensing fee to $32 from $12 last September.

Online bill-paying fees to users were also initiated. In 2006 the county covered user fees for online payment of real property taxes, sewer bills and motor vehicle registration fees.

In January 2010 the county stopped absorbing the fees, and charges were instead made to the user. The fee for an e-payment with an electronic check is $1 plus a $2.50 transaction fee. Credit card users are charged 2.2 percent of the transaction amount plus $2.50 per transaction.

Wallace Rezentes Jr., director of the Department of Finance, cautioned that fiscally conservative measures still need to continue.

"We expect real property revenues to drop again, while the state Employee Retirement System, employee health fund and utility costs are going to increase," said Rezentes in a news release.

Other counties are still assessing their budget to determine what can be done to eliminate furloughs.

"The City and County of Honolulu is looking at every option to get our own fiscal house in order, and has already implemented practically all of our cost-saving measures utilized by Kauai," said Mayor Peter Carlisle in a written statement. The 5 percent pay cut for himself, Cabinet members and all managerial positions are still in effect, he said.

On Maui, Mayor Alan Arakawa said, "We very much want to get out of the furloughs. We have to be reasonable on how we approach it," he said noting studies on impacts to the budget such as the anticipated 10 percent property tax reduction are ongoing.

On the Big Island there are no plans at this time to eliminate furloughs.

"We still face a significant budget deficit," said Hunter Bishop, executive assistant to Mayor Billy Kenoi.






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