As the City’s annual budget and departmental budget briefings get underway, the Council will evaluate the City administration’s requests for capital improvement project priorities, such as homeless housing solutions, road repaving, and timely responses to potholes, abandoned vehicles, and other City services for FY 2019. I have already received comments from constituents on such issues as:
- Proposed fees for trash collections and bulky item pick-up, which many residents view as among the most basic of City public health/sanitation and safety functions.
- Delays in fixing potholes, cracked sidewalks, repaving bumpy sections of heavily-used roadways.
- Slow progress in tackling homeless encampments, illegal dumping and other public safety concerns.
One bright spot during this year’s discussions is Honolulu Police Department Chief Ballard’s budget priorities for the department. After discussions with Chief Ballard and her leadership team during the past 3 months, I am heartened that Chief Ballard has placed her emphasis on improving operations at the community or beat level.
For example, she seeks an increase in the department’s mandatory minimum staffing levels from 60% to 75%. Many mainland cities of comparable size have reported that their police operations are staffed at 90- 95% in comparison to Honolulu’s staffing configurations, and I hope that my council colleagues and neighborhood advocates will push for at least 80%-85% staffing levels to help us address the impacts of more homeless encampments in our communities.
With roughly 250+ current vacancies to be filled, Assistant Chief Nagata reports that the department is expediting its recruitment/training classes to achieve a full complement of officers for positions currently authorized. The recent SHOPO contract approved in December 2017 provides competitive salary ranges to attract quality candidates to HPD.
Chief Ballard proposes to re-establish HPD’s Juvenile Services Division and use “Project HELP” to expand the number of Community Policing Teams (CPT) officers who work directly with homeless outreach providers (e.g., Project HELP and Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) to encourage chronic homeless individuals to accept services and housing.
Feedback from Makiki-Tantalus & Punchbowl Neighborhood Board members and residents will be invaluable on the administration’s pending budgets and fee measures:
- Bill 15 (2018) – Executive Operating Budget for FY 19
- Bill 16 (2018) – Executive Operating Budget for FY 19
- Bill 18 (2018) – Authorizes fees for City-provided refuse collection service for multi-family, ADU/related residences and nonprofit organizations, and appointment-based bulky item collection.
- Bill 19 (2018) – Amends fees for building permits, nonconforming use certificates and subdivision applications.
- Bill 20 (2018) – establishes real property tax rates for the FY 19 budget period.