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City budgets $45 million for security during APEC

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The city has set aside nearly $45 million to help with security and other expenses related to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting being hosted by President Barack Obama this fall.

City agencies shed some light on how the money is being spent during a series of recent briefings before the City Council’s Budget Committee. Agencies have been reluctant to discuss details of how money is being spent, citing security concerns.

The conference is expected to draw 20,000 to the Hawai‘i Convention Center. Security is a priority, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has designated APEC 2011 as a National Special Security Event.

According to the City Council Budget Committee and city Budget Department, the two-fiscal year breakdown is:

>> Police: $18.3 million

>> Fire: $7.8 million

>> Eight other agencies: $3.2 million

>> Contingency: $10 million

>> Insurance: $5 million

Police would spend the money primarily on salary and overtime costs.

During briefings before the Budget Committee on March 21, Vice Chairwoman Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo asked if a mass retirement of Honolulu police officers now eligible to leave with full benefits would affect HPD’s ability to keep adequate staffing during APEC.

Police Chief Louis Kealoha told Budget Committee members that as a long-term initiative, he is diverting a number of sworn officers from prevention and education programs back to regular patrol beats.

“We started that already,” Kealoha said. An unspecified number of officers on special assignment have also been shifted to patrol, as have other officers on desk-bound support duties.

Kealoha said another option may be to bring back HPD retirees temporarily for desk jobs such as booking arrestees.

The Fire Department is allocating more than half of its APEC-related funds to salary and overtime, while about $2.3 million is being spent on special devices, multi-agency communications, decontamination, hazardous incident management, and other types of training and exercises.

Fire Chief Kenneth Silva said his department also may face some retirements but that incoming recruits should be able to meet the need.

The city Department of Emergency Management, which handles civil defense for the city, is expected to keep its emergency operations center open 24 hours a day during the main part of the conference, said Deputy Emergency Management Director Peter Hirai. That will cost about $20,000 more. An additional $185,000 is being spent for training by all city personnel, he said.

As is the case with a majority of the funding for the city Department of Emergency Services, which includes paramedics and lifeguards, most of the roughly $740,000 in APEC-related funding over two years is being reimbursed by the state, said city Emergency Services Director Dr. James Ireland.

Budget Chairman Ernie Martin and Gabbard Tamayo said Council members are committed to providing whatever funding is necessary to ensure APEC goes smoothly, even in a tight budget year. HPD recently lost $5 million designated specifically for APEC and Council members are working with Washington officials to get at least part of that funding restored.

Gabbard Tamayo said she’s being told that advance funding for APEC expenses is not likely, but that there’s a good chance for reimbursement down the line.

“Those opportunities are there,” she said, adding that it was advised city agencies will need to provide “very accurate and specific accounting and tracking for all expenditures made in support of APEC.”

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