Carlisle: Financial Truth About City is 'Not Pretty'

Adrienne LaFrance/Civil Beat

Honolulu's financial health is "not pretty," Mayor Peter Carlisle said Thursday in his first State of the City speech.

The mayor, who gave his address in the same Mission Houses Auditorium where he delivered an inaugural address four months ago, presented a stark portrait of a cash-strapped city with too little money in the bank. In case the numbers he quoted weren't shocking enough, Carlisle used a visual aid to depict a "staggering" 74 percent spike in the city's long-term debt over the past seven years.

"In fiscal year 2012, nearly one out of every five of your tax dollars will go to paying off the credit card principal and interest," Carlisle said. "To say the least, this is over-dependence on the city's credit card, and is financially unhealthy. It must be slowed."

Financial stability is "the greatest problem facing the city today," Carlisle told the audience of mostly city workers (U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye and Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz were also there). He said the municipality's debt went from $193 million to $335 million in seven years, and would rise to $383 million in the coming fiscal year.

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