The mayor proposed a slew of tax and fee increases to fund rising operating costs that include employee benefits and debt service. “There is no money in the budget to fund rail,” Caldwell told reporters.
The mayor also wants to require homeowners and businesses to pay $10 per month for trash collection. Companies that receive federal permits governing pollution would be charged much higher fees as well. Meanwhile, Caldwell is hoping the Council will agree to increase the fuel tax, vehicle weight tax and street parking fees to help pay for public transportation.
The mayor is proposing raising TheHandi-Van fare, currently set at $2 per trip, by 50 cents each year until it reaches $4. The bus fare, now at $2.50, would also rise by 25 cents each year until it reached $3.25.
Property taxes for hotels and resorts would rise by 3.8 percent, from $12.90 per $1,000 value to $13.40. Property taxes would also rise for homes that aren’t owner-occupied and worth more than $1 million, a category known as Residential A. Instead of $6 per $1,000 value, the rate would be $6.30.
Depending on the volume of material discharged, fees paid by companies that discharge pollutants under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System would range from $505 to $1,480. The budget includes funding for Caldwell’s longtime priorities, including road repairs, park improvements and sewer upgrades. Some of the largest proposed expenditures include $655.9 million for wastewater system improvements and $254.6 million for bus and TheHandi-Van services.
The mayor’s road repair budget is down to $30 million because he said the city has already made significant progress repaving streets.
Caldwell also wants to continue to support homelessness initiatives, and the proposal includes $5.7 million for Housing First support services and $1.6 million for transitional housing.
He also wants to hire a third crew to enforce ordinances that prevent homeless people from sleeping in public spaces in certain neighborhoods. It would cost $289,000 to add five new city employees and a police officer for that effort.
Caldwell emphasized how difficult it is for city workers to wake up in the middle of the night, rouse homeless people from their tents and force them to move.
Homelessness and civil rights advocates have criticized the strategy, which Caldwell calls “compassionate disruption,” as inhumane and ineffective. But Manahan said he’s happy with the mayor’s commitment to fund more enforcement of sidewalk nuisance laws and similar ordinances in his district, which includes Kalihi and Iwilei, and says he thinks it will be necessary as long as there’s a housing shortage.
Caldwell also listed several other positions he wants to add, including 16 groundskeepers and three irrigation and maintenance workers.
The mayor’s proposed capital improvement project budget is $956 million. While it’s mostly dedicated to sewer upgrades, it also includes more than $47 million for parks and $27.5 million to acquire a building for the city’s Kapalama satellite city hall. Another $12 million would be for redeveloping the Blaisdell Center, and $4 million would be spent on pedestrian and bike initiatives related to rail.