Furloughs for about 5,200 city employees are to begin July 2, closing most city offices for two days a month.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann explained the city’s furlough plan yesterday, noting that public safety and core city services such as TheBus and refuse pickup would be unaffected.
"With respect to public safety, those services have not been compromised or shortchanged," Hannemann said at a news conference.
Those workers instead face pay cuts of about 5 percent, the equivalent amount of salary being lost by those placed on furloughs, Hannemann said.
City Council Chairman Todd Apo said the furloughs would "obviously have some effect," but was pleased with the overall steps being taken by the administration.
"I think the city, as a whole, is making sure we’re taking care of what we have to have and dealing with the situation we’re in," Apo said. "I think with the state having gone through furloughs for a while now, we haven’t seen anything disastrous.
"So I think for a number of your city services — things like driver’s licenses and registrations, those types of things — they can survive with two furlough days a month, with us being able to implement those and provide some savings to taxpayers."
The furloughs have been expected for months, after they were negotiated into union contracts for city workers last year. They are expected to continue through the end of fiscal year 2010-11.
Hannemann alluded to the furloughs in his State of the City address in February, saying the cuts were needed to help close a budget hole of $140 million. Savings from furloughs were estimated at about $19 million.
City offices at Honolulu Hale, Kapolei Hale, the Fasi Municipal Building and the Board of Water Supply will close on furlough days, along with satellite city halls, permit offices and the City Clerk’s Office. Some exceptions will be made so that walk-in voting will not be disrupted during the primary and general elections.
Central Oahu Regional Park and the Waipio Soccer Complex also would close on furlough days, except for tournaments and events already scheduled, Hannemann said.
Departments not affected include police, fire and lifeguard protection, emergency medical services, refuse collection and curbside recycling, TheBus and Handi-Van, the Honolulu Traffic Management Center, traffic contraflow coning and Hanauma Bay.
Beach parks and comfort stations, public golf courses, the Honolulu Zoo and regular performances of the Royal Hawaiian Band also would be unaffected.
"Everything that is out in the open will be available and accessible to our residents and visitors," Hannemann said.
All online information and permitting services will remain available, and Hannemann urged permit applicants to see if their requests could be handled through the city’s website, honolulu.gov.
While the furloughs helped fill some of the budget deficit, the $1.82 billion operating budget sent to the mayor by the City Council last week also balances in part on a real property tax increase for nonoccupant homeowners.
Hannemann has until the end of next week to decide whether to sign, veto or allow the budget to become law without his signature.
"It looks good," he said. "I’m very pleased, but there’s always something that might come up, and I want to be real clear on it."
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Starting July 2, most city offices will be closed two Fridays per month under the city’s furlough plan. Public safety and core city services are not affected. The furlough days are:
» July 2 and 23
» Honolulu Hale, Kapolei Hale, the Fasi Municipal Building and the Board of Water Supply building, which will be closed to the public
Meanwhile, the Blaisdell Box Office may be closed two Mondays per month, depending on event schedules, and the City Clerk’s Office will close on some days other than Fridays to avoid an impact on elections. Honolulu Hale and Kapolei Hale will be open for walk-in voting.
Source: City and County of Honolulu, Office of the Mayor