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Mayor’s 2015 Budget a Work of Art

Proposed budget is a bean counter’s delight--872 pages with charts & graphs galore.

April 2, 2014
Susan Halas - Contributing Writer ( , Maui Weekly

Maui Budget Director Sandy Baz and his staff have crafted a very thorough piece of financial writing, otherwise known as Mayor Alan Arakawa's proposed 2015 budget for the County of Maui. It's readable, direct, and comprehensive--all 872 pages of it. A good attempt is also made to explain the rationales behind the numbers. The format is clean and easy to follow. The colors are bright. There's a detailed table of contents, and it's written in plain English. It's a good starting place to begin talking about a lot of money.

This space isn't big enough list all the details (broken out department-by-department, job-by-job, fund-by-fund, item-by-item), but the financial analysts among us will have a lot to ponder.

Big Document, Big Numbers

Article Photos

Maui Budget Director Sandy Baz and his staff crafted a clearly written financial document--Mayor Alan Arakawa’s proposed 2015 budget for the County of Maui.

Most readers' eyes glaze over at a string of big numbers, so let's just say that the total annual operating costs are projected at over $600 million with the lion's share going to wages and benefits. The Capital Improvement Program (CIP) proposed spending is big, too, with a healthy $150 million requested. Here's a link to the entire document:

The Maui Weekly is following the Maui Police Department (MPD) numbers, because public safety spending is an increasingly hefty portion of our annual total spending. (See "Maui Police Commission Elects New Chair" on the front page.)

A concise version of the MPD numbers appears on page 525. Find the page by typing the number 525 in the primary link to the document. It comes with two color bar graphs and a detailed financial chart showing year-over-year figures from 2012, 2013 and 2014. These are broken out as "actual" spending next to amounts projected for 2015. Increases or decreases are also noted as percentages and dollar values.

One graph shows that there are about 500 MPD employees--the job count is level year over year. The other graph reveals that annual expenditures have gone from just over $40 million in 2012 to an actual of just under $50 million in 2014, with a rise to over $56 million requested in 2015.

There is a total 15.8 percent average increase in wages and salaries, fringes and other premium pay. The MPD CIP request is slightly over $1 million. There are other special funds and accounts. There is perhaps more detail than the average person might want to know. But, if you are curious, just keep reading--it's all there. Similar detail is available for all other county departments.

An old joke goes, "This book told me more about penguins than I wanted to know." Similarly, it's possible to admire the effort and care that goes into putting together a volume like this without being able to read it all the way through.

It is important to understand the mayor's 2015 budget is a proposal, not an accomplished fact. It is the starting point in the financial discussion.

However, just being mentioned in its pages is a good first step toward having a request become a reality. The mayor's budget next goes to the County Council, which can also add, delete, revise and rearrange the numbers. It is heard first by the council's Finance Committee chaired by Mike White, no slouch as bean counter himself. That committee, consisting of all nine County Council members, reviews it and hears related testimony (see "Public Budget Meeting Schedule" on page 10).

The public is invited to make its own comments and requests, or testify for or against specific items. Testimony can be given in person on any of the scheduled dates or by email (see "Ways You Can Participate in Budget Hearings" on page 2).

The committee holds budget meetings in the Council Chamber through May 2.

The deadline for the council to pass the budget is Tuesday, June 10. If the council fails to pass its own version by that deadline, the mayor's original budget takes effect on July 1.



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