Budget cuts may limit 'Sunset on the Beach'
By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser City Hall Writer
The city's weekly "Sunset on the Beach" movie festivities may be the most visible victim of the spending skirmish between the City Council and Mayor Jeremy Harris.
Under the 2002-2003 budget plan approved yesterday by the Budget Committee and poised for final council approval May 29, the beachfront fairs would take place monthly instead of weekly in Waikiki, unless the administration can find private organizations to pay more of the cost.
City managing director Ben Lee also warned that budget trims made by the council will result in dirtier streets, bus stops that are cleaned less often and potholes that take longer to fix.
The budget committee did restore most of its original trims to the spending plan sent down by Mayor Jeremy Harris, taking only $5 million out of the $1.1 billion operating budget and trimming about $20 million from the $475.5 million construction budget.
City Council budget chairwoman Ann Kobayashi said she feels the cuts are responsible and emphasize what most residents want: consistent public health and safety programs.
Lee said he is most bothered by $1 million cut from the city's economic development and tourism promotions. "That's a 55 percent cut in economic development," he said yesterday.
That fund pays for the sunset and brunch on the beach programs. Lee said having the popular programs less often is shortsighted. "I think it's going to affect the restaurants and small businesses as well," he said.
Lee also said the $1 million cut in the facility maintenance budget means that the response to reports of potholes in city streets will stretch from the current 48 hours to a week.
He also said the money cuts mean general street cleaning will occur once a month rather than once a week, and downtown/Chinatown will be swept weekly instead of daily. Lee said it presents more than just an aesthetic problem because garbage that clogs storm drains could put the city in violation of federal standards.
And Lee said the popular holiday Honolulu City Lights exhibit will be short on money because the maintenance staff provides support for setup, heavy equipment and even the trailers to bring the figures of Mr. and Mrs. Claus to town.