Reducing the city’s long-term borrowing coupled with increases in some user fees for services will be needed to help the city meet its obligations for worker benefits and reduce a burgeoning debt, Mayor Peter Carlisle said.
In his first State of the City address today, Carlisle described a bleak financial picture for Honolulu.
"You first need to be told the truth about where the city is right now," he told the audience at Mission Memorial Auditorium. "It is not a pretty truth."
The city also would look at selling off a "significant" number of remnant properties and supporting the film and television industry to increase outside investment in Honolulu, Carlisle said. He called on a shared sacrifice from everyone, adding "there will be no sacred cows."
Carlisle is required to present his executive budget to the City Council on Tuesday.
With the exception of bus fares, Carlisle said the city must look at raising some user fees, citing an option first raised by Council Chairman Nestor Garcia. "It makes tons of sense," the mayor said.
Carlisle cited the city’s rising debt as a key area that could be reduced by borrowing less money over the long term. He said the city’s debt service is expected to be about $383 million in the upcoming fiscal year.
Meanwhile, the city is facing increasing costs for funding the state employee’s pension fund and health benefits trust fund.
Obligations to the Employees Retirement System are expected to rise to $124 million by 2016 from $97 million this year, while contributions to the health benefits trust fund are expected to go to $162 million, from $103 million, over those five years, Carlisle said.
City agencies would continue operating on reduced budgets, although he made no mention of how he planned to end furloughs for county workers.