February, 1979 Home   Newsletters

March, 1979

Apr, 1979

Schools - Badda' You?
League of Women Voters Day
Units - Units on Schools
Tracking Federal Funds in the Thickets of City Finance
They Earn $ for League
Update: Appointed Boards and Commissions
Citizen Participation
By-Law Changes
Nominating Committee Report
Proposed Budget - 1979-80

Tracking Federal Funds in the Thickets of City Finance

During the past few months the Impact of Federal Funds Committee has discovered that finding out how much federal money the City receives and how it is spent, requires the patience and persistence of a skilled hunter. It is easy to get lost in the City's accounting system. The City segregates its revenues into the General Fund and a large number of special funds, revolving funds, and trust funds. Federal grants may go into the General Fund or one of six special funds: the Federal Grants Fund, Federal Revenue Sharing Fund, Community Development Funds, Highway Fund, Special Projects Fund, and Housing & Community Development Fund.

The total received is not immediately clear. In the City Finance Director's Annual Report the "total" given for federal funds received does not include federal grants earmarked for specific projects. To find them one must check the report for each special fund. Fortunately, we were able to pick up the track with the help of an experienced guide from the Tax Foundation of Hawaii.

Now for some information about our quarry. This is big game we are tracking, and it has been growing. In 1967, the City and County of Honolulu received $6.5 million in federal grants; in 1977, federal grants totalled $92.8 million. During this ten year period, total City revenues tripled, but federal grant revenues were multiplied 14 times. Significant increases in our federal grant receipts coincided with the passage of the federal Revenue Sharing Act in 1972 and CDBG legislation in 1974.*

Federal money has increased not only in total received, but in its significance as a factor in the City's financial picture. In 1967, approximately 8% of Honolulu's operating budget came from federal grants; in 1977, 35%. We need to be aware of how this money is being used and what the consequences might be if it were cut back.

What kinds of federal money are received by our City? Of the $92.8 million received in 1977, the largest amounts were:

$22.6 m for construction of sewage treatment facilities under the federal Water Pollution Control Act

20 m CETA

14.8 m General Revenue Sharing

11.2 m Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)

The remaining amounts were for a wide range of programs and projects, including transportation, anti-recession Fiscal Assistance, the elderly, crime control, art in public places, emergency services, and others.

The League's Federal Funds Committee is most interested in General Revenue Sharing, CDBG and CETA programs, not only because they bring in a lot of money, but because the City has a great deal of discretion on how to use these funds. As our study continues, we hope to discover many interesting facts about the behavior and impact of these federal dollars on Honolulu.

*See Nov., Dec. Aloha Voters.

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