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Kauai Council reviews mayor’s proposed budget

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LIHUE >> Some Kauai County Council members are expressing concerns about Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s proposed $180.6 million budget for the 2015 fiscal year, saying it proposes too much spending.

The proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is a $4.6 million increase over the current fiscal year. About $4 million of the proposed increase is allocated for county employee raises.

Council members said if budgets continue to grow, the county would be forced to raise property taxes, the Garden Island newspaper reported.

“I don’t know how we’re going to get out of this without some very strong, decisive leadership and a plan, quite frankly,” council member Gary Hooser said.

The past five budgets have been unsustainable, according to Hooser. He said the proposal for next year is the same.

Carvalho said his proposal spends in areas where it’s necessary and reduces spending in areas that have moved toward cuts. It calls for additional revenues in targeted areas and creates opportunities for saving now and in the future, Carvalho said.

The seven-member council began looking at the proposed budget Friday. Over the next few weeks, the council will review each department’s needs and requests.

Council member Mel Rapozo said he did not support two earlier budgets because of concerns over the direction the county was heading. He said his support strengthened last year when the administration made some improvements.

He said services need to be prioritized, and trimmed when they are not necessary.

“I want to have a swimming pool in my yard, but I can’t afford it,” he said. “Even if someone gave me the swimming pool, I couldn’t afford the maintenance, so I can’t have a swimming pool. I think that’s the mentality that we need to have.”

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