Honolulu budget: city council approves “end of the pandemic”

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City lawmakers on Wednesday unanimously approved an operating budget of $ 2.9 billion and a capital budget of $ 1.4 billion that authorities say will increase the number of affordable housing units, favor cleaning up streams, will support economic diversification and improve island infrastructure, among other priorities.

“Our budget is not just numbers on paper,” Council Chairman Tommy Waters said in a statement.

“It captures our community priorities and shows a way out of the pandemic, orienting us towards a stronger and more sustainable economy. “

Honolulu City Council Chairman Tommy Waters said the budget illustrates the city’s priorities. Cory Lum / Civil Beat

Budgets come into effect on July 1.

In a statement, Mayor Rick Blangiardi thanked council members for “the vote of confidence in our team in these extremely difficult financial times.”

“Five months to the day after taking office, we are extremely pleased and excited that our first budget has been unanimously approved and we are committed to ensuring that every dollar is spent responsibly and effectively to meet challenges. challenges of building affordable housing, homelessness, infrastructure, public safety. , and modernize our municipal services, ”he said.

The operating budget is $ 39.8 million less than last year’s budget, not including federal assistance. The investment budget is slightly higher than last year.

Council members made several adjustments to the budget proposal presented by Blangiardi in March.

The council said it had restored $ 100 million in capital funds for affordable housing development that were on the chopping block. Homelessness is expected to increase with the expiration of the governor’s moratorium on evictions this month, the council said in a press release.

The council also replaced the $ 2.6 million that the Blangiardi administration intended to cut from homeless services.

The approved budget also includes:

  • $ 170 million for affordable housing
  • $ 5 million in agricultural subsidies for local farmers
  • $ 22.6 million in additional homeless services
  • $ 1.15 million for cleanup of waterways, personnel and equipment
  • $ 500,000 for a mobile crisis unit to assist first responders in non-criminal cases of homelessness / mental health
  • $ 300,000 for building permit system upgrade software
  • $ 20,000 for equipment for remote meeting options for neighborhood council meetings
  • $ 250,000 to improve the energy efficiency of the city’s waste treatment facilities

“This budget helps address key community priorities and cost of living concerns,” Council Vice-Chair Esther Kia’āina said in a statement.

“We need more affordable housing, economic diversification and food security for our families and kupunas, and to do this we need to build more affordable housing and support our local farmers and food production.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi gestures during a press conference announcing road repairs in Kakaako.
Mayor Rick Blangiardi presented his budget proposal in March. Cory Lum / Civil Beat

About $ 28 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, were put into the budget, and $ 38 million in Department of Transportation funds, initially allocated to pay for the interim operation of the railroad. , were devoted to other uses, the council said. .

The operating budget includes over $ 8.7 million for 55 community nonprofits for projects that benefit the elderly, children, the homeless and mental health services, the environment, culture and arts and other public services, the council said.

Organizations applied through a competitive process and a commission of volunteers recommended the winners.

The council worked with the Blangiardi administration to support common goals. This includes funding for the reform and modernization of the Planning and Permitting Department and the addition of a unit in the Office of Economic Revitalization that will be responsible for seeking federal grants.

The latest effort will cost less than $ 500,000, the council said, but it is expected to raise tens of millions of dollars to support projects that are helping Oahu recover from the economic and social impacts of the pandemic.



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