POSTED: 10:56 a.m. HST, Mar 18, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 3:10 p.m. HST, Mar 18, 2014
LIHUE >> Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.'s proposed budget deals with more of the same as last year -- focusing on basics amid shrinking revenues and rising expenses, he said in his State of the County address.
Carvalho detailed his proposed $180.6 million budget for the 2015 fiscal year on Monday.
The cost of government has gone up in the past year. Carvalho said one of the contributing factors has been collective-bargaining costs that account for a $3.3 million increase during the current fiscal year, the Garden Island newspaper (http://is.gd/pq7aYP) reported.
Those costs will also include another $4 million in pay raises for the county's full-time employees during the 2015 fiscal year that begins July 1. The raises are the first ones received by employees from two of four county employee unions since 2008, Carvalho said.
"To deliver the services that you expect and deserve, we must have a well-trained workforce and our workforce must have the proper tools to get the job done," he said. "And as costs increase, we must find ways to save money at every opportunity while also looking at how we can increase our revenues without overly burdening our taxpayers. It feels like an impossible task, but it simply must be done."
The budget process goes before the Kauai County Council on March 27.
The upcoming raises account for most of the $4.6 million in spending increases proposed for the coming fiscal year. To absorb the increases, new fees are being proposed. Among them would be an increase in the hotel and resort class real property tax rate.
The tax proposal doesn't sit well with at least one hotel industry official, Jerry Westenhaver, general manager of Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa.
"The rate is already quite high and would be a financial burden for all hotels on the island," Westenhaver said. "The cost of doing business on Kauai is already very high, and this would make it that much more challenging."