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Blangiardi signs $4.7 billion budget package for fiscal year 2025

HONOLULU — City of Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi on Friday signed a $4.7 billion package of budget bills meant to bolster public safety, create affordable housing and improve city parks on Oahu through fiscal year 2025, which starts July 1.

The mayor’s signature adopts Honolulu’s $3.63 billion executive operating budget — a 6.4% increase over the city’s current $3.41 billion budget — that will fund city employee salaries and benefits, including nondiscretionary costs such as health care, retirement and other post-employment benefits, city officials say.

The spending plan pays for public safety and public health agencies — police, fire and emergency serv­ices departments — which represent roughly 17% of the pro­posed operating budget, or $626.7 million, according to the mayor’s office.

The mayor also approved the city’s nearly $1.05 billion capital improvement program — roughly $29 million less than the city’s current $1.34 billion CIP spending plan — to fund park upgrades as well as improvements to bridges, roads, street lighting and other transportation-­related projects.

The funding will renovate or build new public buildings including Honolulu ­Police Department facilities. In addition, the CIP ­includes $500,000 to plan and design the Ocean Safety First Responder Center for the North Shore Ocean Safety district, officials said.

The mayor also signed budget bills for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, charged with constructing the nearly $10 billion Skyline project to Kakaako by 2031. That includes HART’s $138.3 million operating budget, a 27% increase over its current $109.2 million budget. Also, HART’s $574 million capital budget for next fiscal year, totaling a nearly 1% increase over the current $569 million capital budget.

The Honolulu City Council adopted the budget bills June 5.

“This is an exciting moment for us,” Blangiardi said during at a news conference at Honolulu Hale. “This is a culmination of a yearlong effort if you will.”

Council Chair Tommy Waters said the new budget “reflects our shared values.”

“Public safety, taking care of our people,” said Waters. “I’m so proud of the budget.”

Council Budget Chair Radiant Cordero noted that new funding would be directed to various parts of the city’s operations and capital expenses, including:

>> $50 million toward CIP land acquisition and development of low- to moderate-income affordable housing toward mixed-use projects.

>> $400,000 to expand and train community policing teams in all of HPD’s eight patrol districts.

>> $4.9 million for equipment acquisition across public safety departments, including adding six new ambulances.

>> $2.7 million for the city Department of Parks and Recreation, of which $300,000 would be appropriated for all nine Council districts on Oahu.

>> $16 million for city recreational facilities as well as $10 million in the CIP budget for new play courts at various parks.

“A huge part of our quality of life is our parks,” Cordero said.

In addition, Cordero said the new budget adds $35 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds toward more hazard pay for city workers employed during the COVID-19 pandemic, “for a total of $115 million that will be used for hazard pay.”

In recent years Hawaii’s government worker unions, including the Hawaii Government Employees Association, United Public Workers and the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, have pressured the state and its four major counties to pay their memberships for pandemic-era work.
Source: The Garden Island

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