From our Inside Honolulu blog:
A camping fee ordinance passed by the Honolulu City Council last year has yet to do what it was intended, according to the most recent report from the Office of the City Auditor.
First off, the fees haven’t even been collected since the city implemented an online camping permit program, meaning $366,000 in potential revenues was foregone.
And even if the city had collected that money, the auditor found that it’s unlikely the money would have been used to maintain and upgrade Oahu’s campsites.
Part of this has to do with the Honolulu Budget and Fiscal Services Department’s refusal to create a separate account for the camping fees.
That department’s opinion, according to the audit, is that that money — again assuming it was collected in the first place — should go back into the general fund to “offset” appropriations.
This in turn resulted in the Department of Parks and Recreation not developing a plan for spending these funds.
“As a result, campers are unlikely to see significant improvements to city campgrounds, despite the newly implemented fees.”
Honolulu developed an online camping permit system because long lines had become commonplace, with some people sleeping overnight just to get the proper paperwork.
The problem was, when the city started the online program, it didn’t have the ability to collect fees using the new system.
Security is a concern at Oahu’s parks, the audit found. There’s also a need to repair damaged facilities and repair eroded beaches.
The auditor’s report recommends the camping fees be used to pay for additional security details as well as on maintenance of facilities.
You can read the 96-page report here.