Gov. Neil Abercrombie and First Lady Nancie Caraway have spent more than $41,000 in taxpayer money on improvements to the governor's residence since moving in about a year ago.
According to records obtained by KITV4 from the Department of Accounting and General Services, part of the expenditures at Hale Kia'aina includes installing a dog run for the couple's Shetland sheepdog at a cost of $12,482.
The dog run is simply another fenced in area where first pooch Kanoa can get her exercise unsupervised.
Abercrombie defended the dog run as part of improvements needed to make the governor's residence livable.
"In order for her to be able to go into the yard, we had to put up a fence -- that's all," said the governor. "I think we did a lovely job with that (and) it complements the house."
Lowell Kalapa, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, criticized the governor for what he perceived as a laissez-faire attitude with taxpayer funds.
"Yes, we want to treat our governor with respect," said Kalapa, "but the governor also needs to understand that with money as scarce as it is, we should be putting it to the best use possible to serve the people of Hawaii."
Since the start of the Great Recession in December 2007, lawmakers have cut $4.6 billion from state budgets, while also raising taxes to help keep Hawaii afloat.
Despite the severe austerity measures imposed on isle residents, renovations at the governor's residence did not end with a dog run. KITV4 tracked expenditures over $500 in the past year and a half that totaled more than $41,000.
"Well, we had to fix the house up to make it habitable," explained the governor. "It was 10 years old and it needed some fixing up."
Abercrombie also noted that a nonprofit group has been established to help fund future repairs at the governor's residence. The organization mirrors the nonprofit Washington Place Foundation, which raised $1.2 million to build Hale Kia'aina in 2002.
"Whoever becomes governor will have a beautiful home, and we got a little foundation if people would like to contribute," said Abercrombie.
Projects completed at Hale Kia'aina since December 2010 include the following:
- Window blinds replaced in master bedroom $3,027.00
- Alcove renovated into closet with shelves $7,271.00
- Install light tube in master bathroom $767.00
- New carpet in master bedroom and second-floor hallway $5,892.87
- Repaint selected walls throughout house $1,040.00
- Repaint high ceiling in living room $928.00
- Install new dog run $12,482.00
- Refinish bookshelves $3,295.00
- Install two chandeliers $542.00
- Install new floor outlets $2,731.00
- New dishwasher and refrigerator $3,050.63