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March 2, 2001

MAYOR HARRIS PRESENTS NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET

For Fiscal Year 2002, Mayor Harris has given the City Council a proposed operating budget of nearly $1.1 billion and a capital improvement budget of $498.2 million.

Despite fears that declining property values and rising fixed costs would force an increase in Oahu property taxes, Mayor Jeremy Harris announced that his proposed operating budget and Capital Improvement Budget (CIP) for Fiscal Year 2001 _ 2002 require no increase in property taxes, and in fact propose a slight decrease _ the first of three annual cuts _ for owners of apartments and condominiums.

“Our goal was to continue to hold the line on any tax or fee increase,” the Mayor stated. “We've been squeezed by falling property tax collections on one hand -- $59 million _ and rising fixed costs such as collective bargaining increases totaling $87 million on the other.” The operating budget is $63 million more than the budget he presented last year due to almost entirely to $62 million in payroll and retirement system costs.

Although revenues have again declined, the Mayor balanced the budget through a combination of debt restructuring, sewer fund reimbursement to the general fund, the use of a tax exempt loan program and through the new state law which will return public service company taxes to the counties.

The capital budget will be devoted to replacing old sewer lines and equipment ($201 million), public safety projects ($21.3 million), transportation improvements ($36.7 million) and $7 million to be spent on recreational facilities. The Mayor did not account for the remaining CIP funds in his news conference summary of the budget proposal. The complete proposal is available from the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services or (in the form of funding bills) from the City Council.

Mayor Harris pointed out that the city will save $51 million in the coming year through debt restructuring, an amount which will rise to $86 million in FY 2005. By refinancing the city's long-term debt on advantageous terms, he projects that the government will be able to avoid any near-term increase in property taxes or sewer fees.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2002

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