Honolulu Council Keeps Rail Budget Intact

Michael Levine/Civil Beat

Despite some posturing, some threats and lots of questions for new rail chief Dan Grabauskas, the Honolulu City Council Budget Committee on Wednesday advanced three budget bills for the controversial project.

Bills 31, 32 and 33 all advanced — two without amendment and the third with a tentative agreement in place to move forward on construction without delay.

The three bills represent, respectively, the operating and capital budgets for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation and a measure that would allow HART to issue and sell bonds for the project. All three go back to the full council for second reading, possibly April 25, then come back to committee again.

Most notably, Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi abandoned her proposed amendment to cut all but 14 of HART's 142 budgeted full-time positions. She had floated the amendment to colleagues March 30 and had even included it on her worksheet of changes she planned to make Wednesday. But after a back-and-forth with new HART Executive Director and CEO Dan Grabauskas, who started the job Monday, she recommended to colleagues that they pass the $15.6 million budget without any cuts — for now.

(Read Inside Honolulu for up-to-the-minute updates from City Council budget deliberations and other government and politics nuggets.)

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