KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho gave a speech on the State of the County at 11 a.m. Thursday in the Piikoi Atrium.
He talks of the positive trends in the tourism industry, ongoing projects around the island, plans for a larger county budget next year and increases in county revenue--as a result of the garbage fee to be implemented July 1--that will restore Kauai jobs and likely eliminate furloughs next year.
Here's the transcript:
"This is a good news story, but it's also a cautionary tale.
The responsible actions we've taken to conserve our finances over the past two years have brought us to a place today where we are relatively stable and are even ready to restore some of the cuts that have hampered our ability to serve the public.
As our sister counties begin to implement dollar-funded positions, debt restructuring, reducing overtime and travel…these are all measures we've taken over the past two years that have been highly beneficial. But we must still be conservative, and we must still filter every spending decision we make through a number of questions such as:
Will it stimulate our economy and save or restore jobs?
Will it assist the people of Kaua'i in meeting their basic needs?
Will it result in greater efficiency and cost savings over time?
These are important questions we must ask as we look over the details of our budget for fiscal year 2012.
An overview of what's happening externally in our county reveals much about the direction we must take at this time:
On the positive side….
Kaua'i's unemployment rate dropped throughout 2010.
February home sales for Kaua'i were up 24 percent from the last year, and median prices were up 22%
Kaua'i's tourism numbers were all moving upward last year: visitor arrivals increased by 3.8%, total visitor days increased by 5.3% and expenditures were up 12.4% over 2009.
Film activity was exceptional in 2010 and continues to be strong in 2011 with numerous smaller-scale productions.
While there are many hopeful signs of recovery, some indicators are more troubling:
Kaua'i's income is on a downward trend and our spending has remained flat for the past year.
Housing starts have declined steadily since mid-2009 and appear to be continuing on the downward trend into 2011
There was a 28% increase in bankruptcies in Hawaii in 2010 versus 2009 - the largest increase of any state in the nation.
Taken as a whole, these indicators tell us that we must continue to be conservative during this extended period of economic recovery. At the same time, we must also continue to lead and support efforts to normalize our county operations, stimulate our economy and put the unemployed back to work.
As you may know, the budget we have presented to the Council represents an 11.7 percent increase over the current fiscal year budget. This reverses the trend of the past two years…where we reduced our budget by 6.6% through cost-saving measures such as:
Dollar-funding vacant positions
Reducing travel budgets
Increasing user fees
Yes, we are proposing to spend more money next year. But let's put this into perspective. Between fiscal year 2009 and our proposal for 2012 - a three year span - we have increased our budget only 4.4 percent total. Over that same period, payroll and related costs alone have skyrocketed by 22 percent.
This is a significant achievement and it is due to the careful fiscal management of both the administration and council, with the understanding of the public that we must all sacrifice during these difficult times.
For the record, the budget we're proposing for fiscal year 2012 is $165 million, which is a $17.3 million increase over the current fiscal year. I know that it's a big number, but let's examine it in closer detail:
Of the $17.3 million increase, 95% is attributable to increases in fixed costs:
$14 million of that $17.3 million is due to the elimination of furloughs, and increased costs in payroll and related expenses. These are cost increases that we cannot avoid.
Other fixed cost increases include:
$1.2 million for the expanded bus service on nights and Sundays that we put into place last month
$219,000 in increased fuel and energy costs…due to the rising price of oil
$853,000 for our new helicopter that services fire and police operations
On the North and East sides (construction projects include):
Hanalei Courthouse ADA improvements
P-V retrofits at the Klauea Neighborhood Center
Kapa'a stadium improvements
Repairs to the Pono Kai revetment wall
Boys and Girls Club Kapa'a facility upgrades
In Central Kaua'i:
Lhu'e stadium baseball field improvements
Upgrades to Hanam'ulu Beach Park comfort stations/pavilions
Interior renovation of the Lhu'e Civic Center Piikoi building
Seat replacement for the Kaua'i War Memorial Convention Hall Auditorium
Boys and Girls Club Lhu'e facility upgrades
On South and West Kaua'i:
Kaneiolouma Heiau restoration
P-V retrofits at the Kalheo Neighborhood Center
Hanapp veterans' cemetery improvements
Hanapp Cliffside basketball court
Waimea police substation furnishings and equipment
Kekaha Gardens Park improvements
Kokee Road resurfacing
We will be continuing with road resurfacing, lighting retrofits and parks bleacher replacements island wide.
We've started construction of a lighted traffic warning system to improve pedestrian safety in Kloa near the elementary school in support of Safe Routes to School and Complete Streets
The Kaua'i Bus has expanded service to include weekday evenings and Sunday service.
The County has begun the process of siting a residential adolescent drug treatment facility in central Kaua'i.
The master planning process for a 75-acre "green" affordable housing complex is underway.
The County's been awarded a grant from the State to install six electric charging stations at County facilities and purchase several electric vehicles as a pilot program.
The County supported the timely processing of permits so that the state"s largest solar energy project could be installed and begin to supply renewable energy to the KIUC grid.
The Kaiakea Fire Station is currently going through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification process, and a 30 kilowatt P-V system will be installed later this year.
An invitation for proposals has gone out for an energy company to assist the County increase energy efficiency and renewable sources at wastewater facilities in Wailua, Lhu'e and 'Ele'ele.
Included in our fiscal 2012 budget is funding for the following projects - for which there is a tie to the Holo Holo 2020 vision:
An environmental impact study for the 'Ele'ele 75 acre "green" affordable housing development
Upgrades to Lydgate and Po'ip Beach park facilities - to be expanded to other major beach parks in future years.
An environmental impact study for the Maalo landfill and resource recovery park sites.
Additional P-V retrofits at the Kalaheo and Kilauea Neighborhood Centers and the Police/Prosecuting Attorney/Civil Defense complex in Lihue.
Land acquisition monies for the expansion of Hanalei Beach Park.
Shelters for bus stops."