Mayor and Council Chair disagree on grant money

Mayor and Council Chair disagree on grant money
Published: Jun. 12, 2014 at 3:27 AM HST
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Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell
Governor Neil Abercrombie (center) presents a check
Governor Neil Abercrombie (center) presents a check

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - People in Hawaii are very generous. So much so that in November 2012 voters approved a plan to give half of one percent of the budget every year to charity, which is about $5.3 million of taxpayer money for fiscal year 2015. However, in its latest budget the City Council added on more than $3.2 million of earmarks.

"That's cool!" said a student attending the Hawaii Women in Filmmaking summer camp.

The non-profit's mission is to inspire young women to make movie magic.

"We create a safe and creative space for them to get en caged with films and once we provide those conditions what they do it's simply brilliant," said Vera Zambonelli, Hawaii Women in Filmmaking Founder & Executive Director.

They have been penciled in to get a $100,000 grant, but they're hoping that funding doesn't erased.

"We have been surviving on a very small budget," said Zambonelli. "I think we're really doing something right and to have the support through the funding would allow us to do even more so we can reach more girls."

The City Council approved extra funding for non-profits, but it was $3 million more than expected.

"I believe something is out of whack here," said Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu Mayor.

"Well I think that is just the Mayor's position. I find that a little amusing," said Ernie Martin, Honolulu City Council Chair.

There are more than 70 organizations on the Council's list to get extra funding, many focus on the culture and arts.

Among those organizations that would receive $100,000 were, Hawaii Women in Filmmaking; Mana Maoli which is a charter school, voyaging academy and music program; Moanalua Gardens Foundation which hosts an annual hula festival; the Pacific & Asian Affairs Council which helps students understand foreign affairs; and Worknet, Inc. which helps people become job ready.

"I think from the Council's perspective those are just a critically important as public employee union pay raises, pay raises for the executive cabinet, as well as other necessities so we feel it is a necessity," said Martin.

The Mayor's point, the City budget is $2.1 billion. The State budget is about $12 billion, yet they give away similar amounts to charity.

"Instead of using it for core city services we're using that additional money, hard earned taxpayer money to support different not for profits on an earmarked basis. I'm troubled by that," said Mayor Caldwell.

A committee studied the charities and scored them on worthiness. Many of the council's $3 million in add-ons were not on that list.

The mayor does not have to sign off on all the grants. At the end of the day funding for some organizations may end up on the cutting room floor.

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