Money Paid Out and Collected by the County of Hawaii in 2008-2009

Lincoln Ashida

From the Desk of Lincoln Ashida:

The Office of the Corporation Counsel was asked to provide information about taxpayer money paid out in litigation cases in fiscal year 2008-2009.  We were also asked for information concerning efforts made over the past year in the collection of delinquent accounts for water, solid waste, and other service fees due the County.  This information will be included as part of the County’s annual report required by our laws.

The office settled six major lawsuits during the fiscal year for a total of $3,595,500.  The potential monetary liability exposure for these cases was $8,302,000.  The difference between the potential exposure and actual settlement amount was +$4,706,500 in favor of the County.

Two major cases were dismissed by court order (one case remains on appeal), and three cases were partially dismissed.

There were 65 claims for damages against the County investigated.  The total amount paid for all valid claims was $54,974.

What is the County doing to reduce its liability exposure in future years?  The brutal reality is any government body offering a wide range of services to the public will be exposed to a certain degree of liability. With over 2,300 employees and a number of direct services such as police, fire, solid waste, water, recreation and sanitation offered to the public, there will be times when injury occurs and the County will need to be held financially responsible.  As illustrated above, the $3.5 million incurred during the past fiscal year involved just six cases.  Suffice it to say these were major cases involving extraordinary factual circumstances and thankfully represent the exception and not the norm.  Mitigating future liability is addressed through the County’s Risk Management Division responsible for assessing what happened, how it can be avoided in the future, and what steps the County can take to address the risk factors.  To this end, the County welcomes input and recommendations from the public we serve whenever there are any concerns.  Please contact our office and we will make sure the Risk Management Division is notified.

With respect to collections on delinquent accounts owed the County, the total collected for the fiscal year totaled $4,317,833.  This represents actual cash in hand, and not promissory notes or other promises to pay in the future.  Special recognition goes to Deputy Corporation Counsel Molly Lugo who heads our collection unit and effort while balancing the rest of her legal work and caseload.

One Response

  1. for some additional fun check out page 58 of the Hawaii County Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.
    http://www.co.hawaii.hi.us/finance/cafr/2008%20County%20of%20Hawaii%20CAFR%20Part%202.pdf

    look at the amount of cash they have in 1 year securities. magical double book keeping

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