Council committee approves higher fees for Handi-Van, downtown p - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Council committee approves higher fees for Handi-Van, downtown parking

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Higher downtown parking fees, increased vehicle weight taxes and a fare hike for Handi-Van users were among the proposals approved by the Honolulu City Council's budget committee Tuesday.

Council members also tackled the city budget under criticism that city departments were not spending millions approved in past years.

"Pretty much all of our departments were lapsing a lot of funds that could have been used to pay for fee increases for other things like the Handivan," said Councilmember Kymberly Pine.

The city initially proposed doubling Handi-Van fares over the next three years. It's the first proposed fare hike in nearly 16 years, and the city said the increases is needed to pay for the service's increasing costs.

Fares currently cover about 3.5 percent of the Handi-Van's operating expenses, the city said.

But advocates for the disabled said that before any increase is put in place, services have to improve.

"If you guys are going to increase it, make sure that money ... goes to the Handi-Van to be fixed and to buy more vans," said Handi-Van user Rose Poe.

In the end, the council's budget committee only approved a 25 percent increase and only for next year.

"The proposal that came before us would have increased Handi-Van rates for multiple years and we're only increasing the rates for one year," said City Council Budget Chair Joey Manahan.

The City Council also voted to increase parking fees. Right now, it costs about 25 cents to park in the downtown area for ten minutes. Under the new bill, that increases to 50 cents.

The budget committee also approved an amended operating budget for the city, which trimmed by the $2.45 billion dollar budget by just $9 million dollars.

The city's budget and the fee hikes next go to the full council for approval.

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