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Maui Budget Proposal Handed to Maui County Council for Review

Mayor Alan Arakawa handed over what he called his “most aggressive budget proposal to date” to the Maui County Council on Friday.

The budget consists of $820 million in revenues to pay for an operating budget of $605 million and a capital program budget of $214.9 million. Add in $62.6 million in grant revenues and $12.5 million in federal highway funds and the grand total for the Fiscal Year 2019 budget for Maui County is $882.6 million.

“There are two words that come to mind when looking at this, our 12th budget proposal for the community. Those words are: Planning and Investment,” Mayor Arakawa said. “Without planning, we could not get the best return on the community’s investment. Without investment, there is no mechanism to bring these plans into fruition. To be an effective government, we need to do both.”

Some of the major projects include:

  • $81.2 million for the construction of the Wailuku Civic Hub, which has undergone community planning for more than a decade. The hub hopes to be the cornerstone of the redevelopment and revitalization of Wailuku Town for generations to come.
  • $35.4 million for road resurfacing and improvements, including the roundabout at Kamehameha Avenue and Maui Lani Parkway, which aims to improve traffic and make the area safer for students and other pedestrians.
  • An additional $23.5 million for wastewater improvements and expansion to supplement the $94 million already invested, which will help the county transition from using injection wells to using our recycled water for irrigation. The total cost will be around $117.5 million.
  • $20.1 million for new parks facilities and improvements, including a new starter booth and restaurant facility at the Waiehu Municipal Golf Course.

Operationally, the departments intend to improve services with the following changes:

  • $9 million for Housing & Human Concerns to acquire property to expand homeless shelters and affordable housing countywide. The Department will also reestablish the first-time homebuyer’s assistance
    program.
  • Depositing $6.5 million to the Emergency Fund. This includes money that was spent for work during the Iao flood and that were budgeted to cut down dead Eucaplytus trees along Piiholo Road.
  •  $2.7 million for Fire & Public Safety to replace water rescue craft for Ocean Safety, as well as pumper trucks for Napili and Wailuku stations. The cost also covers pay for four Ocean Safety officers and their equipment to operate a lifeguard station at Black Rock in Kaanapali. Resorts are donating land and the lifeguard tower. While this is not a county beach park, this is the area where the most drownings on our island are taking place, and this public-private partnership will help educate and protect beachgoers, as well as save many lives, according to the county.
  • $1.2 million for Planning’s Maui Island Plan implementation report; for community plan updates and studies; shoreline, beach management and restoration studies; and to overhaul the Title 19 Zoning Code. Some of the county’s planning projects, like developing the county’s ag parks can take years. Others, like reforestation or creating a new, deep water harbor, may take generations, the county noted in a release Friday.
  • $745,000 for the Transportation Department to buy replacement Maui Buses and MEO shuttles. This includes a $300,000 grant to MEO for a new maintenance facility. A pilot Waihee bus route will also begin this year.
  • $367,000 for the Maui Police Department to increase the number of patrol officers in the central district — which encompasses Wailuku, Kahului, to to Haiku and Ulupalakua. The county says thhe department also needs $220,000 for police body cameras, data storage and maintenance.

To help pay for these projects, the administration is proposing a progressive, tiered, new tax structure.

There will be one rate for properties valued at less than $500,000; another rate for property values between $500,000 and $1.5 million; and a third rate for properties worth more than $1.5 million.

In addition, this will be the first budget implementing the council’s amendments to separate short-term rental units from hotels and resorts tax classifications. The county says that these changes will not affect homeowners and will allow rates to be adjusted to generate the revenue required to maintain county services and infrastructure.

If this tiered rate structure is approved by council, county officials say they will have no reason to increase property taxes this year, and rates will remain the same for a majority of the property owners, despite the fact that values have increased.

FY 2019 budget proposal documents can be reviewed here.

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