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Budget moves ahead: County Council denies road-striping truck lease option


County road striping crews will continue doing their work the old-fashioned way, following a 2-7 County Council vote Wednesday denying the lease of a road-striping truck.

At issue was an amendment posed by South Kona/Ka‘u Councilwoman Brenda Ford to take $84,000 a year from the roads-in-limbo program to lease a truck instead of having the county’s two road-striping crews push a cart down the road to paint the stripes. The county currently budgets $1 million annually to main the limbo roads, which are claimed by neither the state nor the county.

The amendment was one of a handful of amendments council members mulled while moving Mayor Billy Kenoi’s $416.9 million budget forward on a 9-0 vote. All but two amendments were killed; one a technical amendment correcting an error and the other a budget transfer supporting the teen dating violence program.

Council members in general liked the mayor’s budget, saying they could see a lot of work went into a carefully thought out spending plan. The budget has one more hearing June 2, when it’s likely to be passed as-is.

Kenoi praised the Finance Department and the council for helping put the plan together.

“(The Finance Department) put many, many months in putting together a sound budget,” Kenoi said. “I thank the County Council for going through the budget with the departments one-by-one.”

The budget includes 10 new positions and increasing a part-time employee to full time. Four of the new positions go to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, including a new deputy prosecutor and three new clerks. The new positions are needed to handle changes in judiciary requirements, Kenoi said in his budget message.

The budget is 5.7 percent higher than the previous year. Most of the new money in the budget, which will go into effect July 1, is for salary hikes negotiated at the state level.

There are no increases in property taxes or user fees in the new budget.

On the road-striping issue, Public Works Director Warren Lee told the council a truck was 14th on his list of priorities for the department, and he’d like to keep flexibility in his budget rather than tie up a lease payment.

“Certainly, a truck is more efficient than someone pushing a little wagon down the street,” Lee said.

Other council members objected to money taken out of the budget for roads in limbo. The county has 99 miles of such roads and can pave only 5 miles a year with its $1 million budget.

“We have so many roads in limbo,” said Hamakua Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter.

Email Nancy Cook Lauer at ncook-lauer@westhawaiitoday.com.

 

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