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Police department asked to find more cuts

Updated: 
March 19, 2017 - 12:05am

KAILUA-KONA — The mayor’s office has asked the Hawaii Police Department to once again look at ways to possibly trim its budget, according to a financial report delivered to the Police Commission on Friday.

The department submitted its initial budget to the mayor’s office in late December. The department got an email last week about more cuts or to identify where more cuts might be made, said Assistant Chief of Administration Marshall Kanehailua, during the monthly meeting held in Kailua-Kona.

Proposed budget amendments and additional requests for all departments are due April 13.

Kanehailua spoke to the commissioners about the increase in salaries versus operating costs.

He said there is no comparison between wages and a status quo budget because salaries are negotiated through unions while the county council approves operating costs.

Deputy Chief Kenneth Bugado said the budget the department submitted for the next fiscal year is $65,162,316.

The budget from fiscal year 2016-17 was $65,098,683, with salaries and wages accounting for $42,260,928 of the total.

Since 2008, Kanehailua said, the department has reduced its budget or maintained the status quo, meaning the budget didn’t change from the year prior.

“You can only trim so much. Now you’re picking the bones,” Kanehailua told commissioners.

Police Chief Paul Ferreira sat in front of the commissioners after Kanehailua. He said the first things usually to get cut are training, travel and subscriptions.

Keith Morioka, chairman of the commission, said the budget is always a concern.

“Right now, the mayor says there’s no money and they got to cut the budget – it’s very difficult for them,” he said.

Mayor Harry Kim is aware of the budget concerns at the police department. He said all county departments are going through a review process for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

The mayor said this is a time for the departments to review their budgets and to justify them. He added the police department and its budget is a priority.

Revenues and expenses are unstable because the county is unsure how much money it will get from the Tourism Accommodation Tax, Kim said. It is also unstable because of collective bargaining, the negotiation of salaries.

The county will finalize the 2017-18 budget in July.

A crime report was also delivered for Area I: South Hilo, North Hilo, Hamakua and Puna and Area II: South Kohala, North Kohala, Kona and Kau.

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