HILO — Mayor Harry Kim inched his annual spending plan up another $2.3 million in his proposed budget delivered Monday to the County Council.
The budget adds $500,000 to grants for nonprofits, restoring the allocation to its previous level of $1.5 million. It also puts $270,000 into the council contingency fund, giving the nine council members $30,000 each to spread around their districts. This past year, they had $75,000 each.
The $518 million budget relies on increases in property values, landfill tipping fees and housing grants to reach its new historic level, a 5.5 percent increase over last year. No property tax increases are planned this year, but the fuel tax will ratchet up by an additional 4 cents.
“The budget continues to be based on estimated revenues,” Kim said in his budget message. “The budget should be based on our objectives to provide quality service to the public, while maintaining prudent and conservative spending.”
There are no new positions in the budget, but the budget is increasing because of top-to-bottom raises for rank-and-file employees and elected and appointed officials.
The budget reflects no increase in the county’s share of the transient accommodations tax, collected on hotels and short-term lodging, after an increase passed by the House was rejected by the Senate just before the legislative session ended Thursday.
Nor does it rely on any increase in the general excise tax. The Legislature is giving the county another chance to add a half-cent surcharge in a bill extending the deadline sent to the governor for approval.
A dubious County Council is scheduled Wednesday to take up its measure, Bill 102. The budget will be amended if the measure passes.
The budget now goes to the County Council for amendments and votes, with first reading set for May 22. Once passed and approved by the mayor, it goes into effect July 1.
South Kona/Ka‘u Councilwoman Maile David, chairwoman of the council Finance Committee, applauded the $500,000 restoration to nonprofits.
“This increase allows the many organizations to continue providing much needed services to our kupuna, keiki and at risk and disadvantaged members of our island communities,” David said.
She was also satisfied with the contingency fund allocation.
“As for council members contingency relief fund, given our current budget situation, I am thankful that we are getting something to help our respective communities,” she said. “We just have to tighten our belts and make the best of what we have to work with.”