The State of Hawai‘i is not the only governmental entity collecting and spending money for the public good. Each of the four counties has taxing authority and responsibilities that complement state budgets and services. During FY2018, Hawai‘i’s four counties – the City and County of Honolulu, Kaua‘i County, Maui County, and Hawai‘i County – expected to raise and spend more than $6 billion, with the bulk (62 percent) going to operations and the balance to capital improvements (37 percent). There is a fifth county, Kalawao, that is comprised of Moloka‘i’s Kalaupapa Peninsula, but it is not included in this account. Its few remaining permanent residents live in a Hansen’s disease facility, and it is administered by the state Department of Health.
State and county revenue sources overlap very little. Counties collect property taxes, which, according to the state constitution, may not be assessed by the state. Other county revenues include: service and use fees for water, sewer and waste disposal, licenses, and permits, including building permits. Another sizeable category of revenue, amounting to more than $340 million for all counties, was inter-governmental funding, most of which is a share of the Transient Accommodations Taxes (TAT) that the state collects and shares with counties.
Counties in Hawai‘i do not pay for public education, but they carry out many other essential services, including:
- Civil defense, fire, ambulance services, and ocean safety;
- Police, prosecuting attorneys, and county jails;
- Sanitation services, such as water, sewer, and waste management;
- Building and maintaining mass transit systems, county and city roads, and streets;
- Driver licensing and vehicle registration;
- City and county parks and recreational facilities;
- Human services, including Aging and Disability Resource Centers; and
- Grants to nonprofit organizations.
Each county’s mayor proposes a budget to the county council, which approves the budget for execution by the county administration. Using the parlance of county councils, actions are called “ordinances,” not “bills.” Each county has the same fiscal year as the state, that is, one that starts on July 1 and ends on June 30. Each budget covers a one-year period and is typically proposed in May and approved in June for the upcoming year.
Budget information is not presented uniformly across all counties. The Hawaiʻi Budget & Policy Center analyzed and categorized data to make it as comparable as possible. Links to county budget information are included at the end of this section.
County Budget Links
All information shown in the county charts above are based on HBPC’s analysis of county budget information available at the links below.
Kaua‘i County budget information is available at:
- County of Kaua‘i FY2018 Capital Budget Ordinance
- County of Kaua‘i FY2018 Operating Budget Ordinance
- County of Kauaʻi 2018 and 2019 Budget Comparison
City and County of Honolulu budget information is available at:
- City & County of Honolulu FY2018 Capital Budget Ordinance
- City & County of Honolulu FY2018 Operating Budget Ordinance
- City & County of Honolulu FY2018 Executive Program and Budget
Maui County budget information is available at:
Hawai‘i County budget information is available at: