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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Panel OKs job cuts, furloughs, tax hike


By Ilima Loomis
Maui News

WAILUKU, Maui The Maui County Council's Budget and Finance Committee voted unanimously Monday to recommend a 2011 budget that would cut 108 county jobs and furlough remaining workers, while increasing property tax rates to partially offset lower tax collections.

The budget would provide $524.2 million for all county operations and infrastructure, cutting spending by about 7 percent from the current fiscal year. The county would spend about the same amount on county grants as it did this year, and the Maui Bus service would operate at existing levels, with a small fare increase.

The 2011 budget will go to the full County Council for first reading on May 18. The council has until the end of the month to pass a budget for the coming fiscal year.

Mayor Charmaine Tavares and council members struggled with what to do about diminished revenues for 2011. With property values slumping, the county's take in real property taxes, its biggest source of income, would have been down more than 10 percent if rates stayed the same as this year.

Council members supported Tavares' proposal to furlough county employees for one day each month, a plan expected to save the county about $3.4 million over the year. But the furloughs will impact public services in addition to the county's bottom line. Tavares has already said that pools and landfills will close once a week starting July 1 due to staff shortages.

The council went a step further than Tavares in cutting the county workforce. While the mayor had proposed freezing 60 positions her administration had identified as not immediately necessary, council members eliminated those positions and cut an additional 48 positions that are currently vacant.