Earlier today Mayor Michael Victorino signed, but raised questions about the Fiscal 2022 Budget Bill passed by the Maui County Council. He also returned, unsigned, a bill for pay raises in the Office of Council Services.
The Maui County Council’s increased the mayor’s proposed FY 2022 budget by more than $14.5 million. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,
Mayor Victorino had submitted a more conservative budget on March 25 in light of the unknown impact of the pandemic on Maui County’s finances.
He thanked councilmembers for joining him in supporting attainable housing, critical infrastructure improvements and partnerships with many non-profit organizations throughout the County.
Among other things, the Council added another 1 percent over the mandated 3 percent of certified real property tax revenues that the Mayor proposed for the Affordable Housing Fund.
“The additional revenue of $23,000,000 to the fund for FY 2022 will allow the administration to plan for much-needed attainable housing for our working families and residents,” Mayor Victorino said. “In the spirit of collaboration and working together for the residents of our County, we will move forward in FY 2022 ready to support the future of our children, families and seniors,” he added.
However, the mayor said the Council’s consolidation of line-item grants for the Office of Economic Development was a bad idea. “Combining line-item grants in the Office of Council Services into one competitive ‘pot’ came without warning and caused uncertainty for many grantees,” Mayor Victorino said. “Our grant management staff and the nonprofits were blind-sided by this action, which caused unnecessary concern during this time of economic recovery.”
A separate measure, Bill 55, raises the pay schedule for the Office of Council Services, and Mayor Victorino questions the timing of such a move without taking issue with the work of Office of Council Service employees.
“My action of returning Bill 55 (2021), unsigned, is in no way directed at the quality of service of the employees of the Office of Council Services,” Mayor Victorino said. “As a former Councilmember, I know firsthand the time and effort these employees put in to assist the County Council. However, at a time when our economy is still recovering and so many residents remain unemployed, I question whether FY 2022 is an appropriate time for salary increases.”
The mayor pointed out that five Bargaining Units including United Public Workers Bargaining Unit 01 and Hawaii Government Employee Association Bargaining Units 02, 03, 04 and 13 have reached tentative agreements for no increase to their existing salary schedules July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022.
“While the employees of the above-mentioned Unions and appointed employees in the Office of the Mayor are making the sacrifice of going without salary increase for FY 2022, I cannot in good faith support this,” Mayor Victorino said. “Since the tentative agreements contain reopener language specific to wages in the second year, I urge the County Council to delay their step movements for FY 2022.”
“As we turn our focus away from the pandemic and work toward a brighter tomorrow, our priority remains the well-being of the people of the County of Maui,” he said. “I look forward to our continued collaboration and commitment to fiscal responsibility as we move our community forward. Together, we can provide essential services to our residents today, while continuing to lay the foundation for a healthy, thriving community for generations to come.”
The FY2022 budget bill goes into effect on July 1, 2021.