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”Kobayashi Says Harris Administration’s Lack of Fiscal Responsibility Taking Toll On City”
Honolulu City Council Member Ann Kobayashi says the city administration’s lack of fiscal discipline and accountability is taking its toll on the city and county of Honolulu. She made her comments this morning on the KHVH Radio’s Rick Hamada show.
Kobayashi cited many problems that have arisen because the administration of Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris chose to spend money set aside for basic infrastructure on more “glamorous” projects, such as parties on Waikiki beach and community visioning team projects he pushed forward that were not necessarily endorsed by the community.
Some of the problems cited by Kobayashi:
*Hawaii was recently rated as having the worst roads in the nation by the Surface Transportation Policy Project. The group reports 89.7 percent of Hawaii’s roads are in poor to mediocre or fair condition and that the state has the highest level of bad roads of any state in the nation and ranks number 46 on allocating the least amount of funds for road repair.
*Hawaii Reporter last year documented Kobayashi’s concerns that the city was not spending allocated funds for roads or road improvements. Kobayashi says city administrators report an estimated $30 million per year for the next several years must be spent on roadwork just to “play catch up” and get the city’s roads into good condition.
*The city is subsidizing TheBus system and using federal HUD funds supposedly allocated through community block grants to low income residents under the guise that TheBus transports young single mothers in Waianae. Meanwhile, non-profits that serve the poor are struggling to raise these kinds of funds that the city could allocate to them.
*The city’s proposed $1 billion Rapid Transit System has already cost the taxpayers $12 million of $31 million allocated, Kobayashi says, yet nothing has been built and no traffic problems have been solved. Kobayashi, who is opposed to the construction of the BRT system, says the light rail will only cost taxpayers more money and cause more problems for drivers.
*The city has the ability to spend money at will that has been allocated by the Council, even if the money has been designated to pay for other services or personnel. Kobayashi cites as an example the fund that is supposed to be used to fill vacant city positions but instead is used to fund construction projects. The city then hires emergency and temporary personnel, which allows the administration to avoid paying healthcare and other benefits mandated by the state. The total amount spent on emergency and temporary hires last year came to $4.5 million.
*Also being subsidized are the city’s entertainment facilities