Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell wants the City Council to consider a proposal aimed at helping locally owned recycling companies instead of overriding his veto of another measure that would subsidize all recycling businesses that bring large amounts of solid waste to the landfill.

Caldwell said he vetoed Bill 50 on March 3 because $530,000 of the $600,000 proposed subsidy would have helped Schnitzer Steel, a scrap metal recycling company based in Oregon.

The Council voted to approve Bill 50 on Feb. 17 in a 7-1 vote. A veto override vote is scheduled for Wednesday.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says a consensus report by state, county and tourism officials offers a more reasonable tax split for the counties.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell speaks at a legislative committee hearing in January. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

City Council Chairman Ernie Martin and Budget Committee Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi acknowledged most of the subsidy would help Schnitzer Steel, but said the bill was necessary to aid local businesses who are struggling financially due to low commodity prices.

A press release for the mayor said Tuesday’s proposed compromise “allows six local companies to benefit from a tipping fee discount, but forgoes subsidies for out-of-state recyclers like Schnitzer Steel, a Fortune 1000 company that last year grossed $1.9 billion in revenue.”

“As I stated in my veto message, I am willing to work with the City Council if there’s a need to support our small, locally-based recycling companies, but taxpayers should not subsidize large corporations that don’t need help being sustainable,” the mayor said in the release.

UPDATE: Martin issued a statement late Tuesday slamming Caldwell for announcing his proposal through the media rather than speaking directly to the Council:

“I am very disappointed, once again, in the manner in which the Mayor chose to communicate with the council. The protocol for offering a compromise is to include the bill in his veto message to the council. To float this the day before we consider a veto override is disingenuous. The Mayor did not work with the council and we learned of his plan through the media,” Martin wrote.

“That’s the Mayor’s MO. He spends way more time talking to the press than he does working with the community and the council. He likes to put on a show in front of the cameras and that’s how the members learn of his plans. Every time. The Mayor should take his own advice when dealing with the Council, this isn’t about politics, this is about good government.”

“Nevertheless, if and when the Mayor’s bill appears before the Council, I will urge the members to give it the consideration it is due.”

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