HONOLULU(KHON2) — Honolulu City Councilmembers tackled the city’s spending plan in a special budget meeting Tuesday morning. They also discussed challenges several of the city’s departments are facing.
The City Council’s budget committee taking up Honolulu’s budget for the next fiscal year and backing projects with additional funds. This included $8.3 million for homeless services, $1 million to expand stabilization facilities to help severely mentally ill, and $1 million for the Honolulu Police Departments patrol division.
City Councilmember Tommy Waters voiced concerns to HART director Lori Kahikina about the cost of the rail after hearing the FTA has questions about HART’s current recovery plan.
“They haven’t formally said they are in disagreement,” Kahikina explained. “(The FTA) wants to look at our numbers, relook at the numbers. And suggests there are early indications that we may be off by several million. So there’s nothing definitive that the board could say that FTA is not in approval because we haven’t submitted anything to them yet.”
“Several million? Or several hundred million?” Waters asked.
“Hundred million,” Kahikina said.
“One hundred million?” Waters asked.
“It’s probably about $250 to $300 million,” Kahikina said.
She said that if HART adds that amount to their plan, the FTA will likely approve it, but said they are also looking at financing the project differently to save money.
Council member Esther Kiaaina addressed the issue of a revolving door at the city department tasked with helping most of Honolulu’s homeless, with many workers moving on after a year.
“I think the Department of Community Services and CBDD in particular are perfectly poised to help some of Honolulu’s most vulnerable to help CBDD stabilize staffing and ensure the division has staff with necessary regulatory expertise and are quickly obtain expertise and operations,” Kiaaina said.
Aedward Los Banos, Deputy Director of Community Services Department, admitted they’ve had a hard time keeping employees in their department.
“The division has 19 positions, of them only five have been with DCS for over two years.”
Feral chickens were another topic of discussion.
“The recommendation is that we accept and amend the proviso to read atleast $50,000 out of the current expenses shall be approrpriated for feral chicken control contract,” Council member Calvin Say said.
Department of Customer Service Director Kimberly Hashiro said they’ve spent $7,000 so far.
“We had a vendor begin service in mid March and have been receiving updates. So far, they’ve caught about 67 chickens in total.”
Hashiro said the city’s contract covers five different locations but they may expand that to 10 and hire a second vendor to remove the pests.
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City council will cast their final votes regarding next year’s budget June 1.