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Hokama offers alternative to mayor’s budget proposal
April 28, 2015
By MELISSA TANJI - Staff Writer (email@example.com) , The Maui News
WAILUKU - Lower property tax and status quo water rates, along with higher user fees for the Waiehu Municipal Golf Course and Maui Bus, were part of the proposed budget presented by the Maui County Council's Budget and Finance Committee chairman Monday.
Chairman Riki Hokama chose to retain Mayor Alan Arakawa's proposed increases to sewer, trash collection and tipping fees along with hikes to the vehicle fuel and weight taxes.
In his remarks to other councilors in Council Chambers, Hokama noted repeatedly in his remarks that "nothing is free" and that residents could not sustain "double-digit" increases to some taxes, especially property taxes.
(Article Photos) Hokama
Hokama's proposals come as the committee nears the final stretch of its review of the fiscal 2016 budget that takes effect July 1. The proposal has yet to be referred to the full council, which has until June 10 to pass the budget. Failing to act would mean the mayor's budget would take effect, as submitted. Committee meetings are scheduled throughout this week. Public testimony is being accepted.
Hokama's proposed budget is $586 million, or about $114 million less than Arakawa's proposed budget of nearly $700 million. Arakawa's proposed budget is 16 percent higher than this year's council-adopted budget of $604 million. Hokama's proposal for the next fiscal year is $18 million, or 3 percent, less than the current year's budget.
When delivering his proposal, Hokama said that he was decreasing borrowing by $96 million and axing capital improvement projects that have insufficient design work and other problems that make them difficult to move forward.
PROPERTY TAX RATE PROPOSALS
Mayor Alan Arakawa is proposing to keep property tax rates for fiscal year 2016 the same as the current year. Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Riki Hokama is seeking a 3.5 to 4 percent decrease in all tax categories because valuations have climbed 13.5 percent. The proposed rates are per $1,000 of net taxable assessed value.
HIGHLIGHTS TO HOKAMA'S PROPOSAL
Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Riki Hokama offered his proposal for the 2016 fiscal year budget that begins July 1. The plan includes:
* $1.2 million for the continued defense against the coqui frog.
* Adding $7.5 million to a request by Mayor Alan Arakawa for a new municipal parking lot in Wailuku.
* $9.6 million for source, transmission and storage to help reduce the Upcountry waiting list for water meters.
* Adding expansion positions and funding for new operations and equipment for Real Property Tax functions; proposal could generate $5 million in additional revenue.
* More flexibility with Waiehu Golf Course rates to be more competitive with private courses and to make the course self-sustaining.
He also is decreasing the county workforce through attrition and would consider shifting vacant positions before adding new ones.
The cost to county residents by doing "nothing" and allowing Arakawa's proposed budget to take effect is "too high," Hokama said. He questioned Arakawa's $700 million "burden" on the "people we were elected to serve."
"Residents spend within their means (and don't) create a wish list and extract payment from their neighbors," Hokama said, alluding to Arakawa's proposed rate and fee increases and large and long-term projects.
Although Arakawa is proposing to keep property tax rates the same, valuations are up 13.5 percent. Hokama said that even if current rates are maintained, it will result in a "significant increase in real property tax" payments by property owners.
Hokama is proposing a 3.5 to 4 percent overall decrease in rates. Still, he said, his proposal means property owners would be paying more and generating 5 percent more in property tax revenues for the county.
Under Hokama's proposal, the county would net $254 million in property taxes, a $16 million increase over the current fiscal year. Under Arakawa's proposal, the county would net $263 million.
Water rates, including those for agriculture, would remain the same along with water meter service charges. Hokama proposes no fee increase for new water meters. Comparatively, Arakawa proposed a 2.5 percent hike for water service fees, which include bills for water usage. He also sought to more than double the current water service development fee for a standard 5/8th-inch residential meter from $6,030 to $14,060.
Arakawa has long sought the increases to pay for water improvement projects that he said the county should be doing now to save on repair costs in the future.
Instead of increasing water rates and fees for residents, Hokama is seeking to appropriate nearly $10 million for source, transmission and storage development for the water department and to assist with the reduction in the Upcountry water meter wait list.
Hokama has proposed keeping some of Arakawa's other proposed fee and rate increases. Fire, police and ocean safety department operations; road repairs; and running the bus system cost money, he said, repeating his "nothing is free" mantra.
Hokama said rates and fees are proposed to "ensure services for residents are sustainable in the near futures to come."
Areas where Hokama aligns with with Arakawa include:
* 5 percent increase to sewer fees to assist with developing a needed sewage treatment plant.
* $4 increase to trash collection fees per month for Maui and Molokai; $2 increase per month for Lanai.
* Commercial tipping fee increase from $65.60 to $80 per ton.
* 2 cent per gallon increase in the county fuel tax, from 16 cents to 18 cents.
* Vehicle weight tax increase from $0.0275 to $0.03 per pound of net weight for passenger vehicles, trucks and noncommercial vehicles not exceeding 6,500 pounds.
Hokama also is proposing a $1 increase to all daily pass routes for the Maui Bus and raising general monthly passes for all categories, including senior citizens and disability bus fares, from $45 to $60 for all routes.
Waiehu Golf Course fees also would be tinkered with in Hokama's plan, with some rates increasing and others decreasing. There also would be new twilight and 9-hole rates.
Fees also would increase from $2 to $12 for camping permits, and the commercial bike tour permit annual fee would go from $100 to $250.
The capital improvement projects Hokama nixed included nearly $30 million in construction funds for the Kalana O Maui Campus expansion; $2.9 million for the county Waikapu Baseyard; $2 million for upgrades, including a new gym and other facilities, for the War Memorial Complex; and $4 million for the South Maui gymnasium.
The budget committee chairman also proposed reducing the mayor's requests for funding of equipment, premium pay and operations in many departments. Hokama is leaving the personnel count the same as the current fiscal year.
Hokama said spending on nonprofits would remain level for next year compared to this year's budget.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAVE THE DATE!
Wednesday, April 29/2015, 6 pm
Council Chambers, Wailuku
A public hearing on real property tax rates is scheduled Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber.
Tax rates for the upcoming fiscal year will be set by the council in the fiscal year 2016 budget, currently under review by the Budget and Finance Committee. Council members will consider testimony from the public hearing as the committee holds decision-making meetings on the budget throughout this week.
By MIKE WHITE, for The Maui News
A public hearing by the Maui County Council is scheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m. regarding real property tax rates for fiscal year 2016, which begins July 1, 2015.
If you are unable to join us at the Council Chambers, tune in to Akaku Maui Community Media on Channel 53.
Real property tax is the county’s largest source of revenue. Current rates per $1,000 of net taxable assessed property value for each class of property are:
See Press Release: http://mauicounty.us/budget-finance/county-council-considers-tax-rates-audit-reports/ for more information and proposed rates.
See Here for detailed information on meeting: http://mauicounty.us/meeting/public-hearing-real-property-tax/
Attend the HHSC meeting
April 24, 2015
The Maui News
We would urge everyone to attend Tuesday evening's public meeting of the Maui Region of Hawaii Health Systems Corp.
The topic is the budget cut facing Maui Memorial Medical Center in fiscal year 2016. MMMC must decide what services will be slashed as it faces a $28 million shortfall.
The meeting is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Puu Kukui Elementary School in Wailuku.
Wesley Lo, chief executive officer of the Maui Region, warned that the cuts would affect every resident and visitor on Maui. Lo had earlier stated the shortfall might cause a reduction in services ranging from oncology, cardiology, obstetrics and gynecology to surgical and intensive-care units.
The situation is looking particularly dire after Gov. David Ige stepped in Tuesday and asked the House to cancel a vote on a bill already approved by the state Senate that would have allowed the Maui Region to seek out a private nonprofit partner. Ige asked the Legislature to send the measure to a conference committee to address unspecified concerns he had with the bill.
We worry that the bill might get stuck (and die) in the conference committee as it did last year. Or, just as bad, that a poison pill clause to appease unions could be inserted in the bill that would drive away potential partners.
In any event, the public and Lo have to act on the assumption that the current budget numbers will govern 2016 and plan for them. Tuesday's meeting will give the public a chance to hear the plans and give input.
It is also a chance to show the governor and the Legislature how important Maui Memorial is to our community.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.
Kāʻanapali Makai Watch invites the West Maui resort community to attend an informative volunteer training workshop
Sat. April 25th, 9 am - 1pm at the Kaunoa Senior Center in Lahaina
I would like to invite you to participate in the upcoming Makai Watch Training workshop to be held in Lahaina on Saturday April 25th. More details are below in the official news release from the DLNR, and background on the statewide Makai Watch program as well as our local Kāʻanapali Makai Watch program can be found here.
This training is a great opportunity for anyone who would like to learn more about marine resource management, marine life identification, local rules and regulations, modern and traditional fishing practies, and the cultural significance of the Kāʻanapali region. Whether you would simply like to become more informed, or actively volunteer and officially join our team, this workshop is an excellent opportunity and is ideal for resort management and staff, security officers, watersports companies, property owners and part-time residents.
Check out some photos that give an overview of Makai Watch and the Kāʻanapali Makai Watch Program, and highlight some of the amazing individuals who have been helping out through the years.
Please let me know if you have any questions, and if you would like to RSVP, email, call or text me at (808) 283-1631.
Executive Director, Project S.E.A.-Link,
Coordinator, Kāʻanapali Makai Watch
Makai Watch Volunteer Training Workshop - Saturday, April 25th, 9 am - 1 pm, Kaunoa Senior Center, Lahaina
DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES
DAVID Y. IGE
NEW TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES FOR MAKAI WATCH COMMUNITY VOLUNTEERS
HONOLULU -- Helping the State of Hawaii bring more effective management of Hawaii’s near shore marine resources is the goal of the Makai Watch Volunteer Program, which is assisting the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) by acting as the ‘eyes and ears’ of conservation enforcement in the community.
The goal of Makai Watch is to enhance the management of near-shore marine resources by providing community members opportunities for direct involvement in management activities.
Makai Watch Volunteers who wish to participate in the program in an official capacity will need to complete the volunteer training and pass a certification test.
The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) and Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), in collaboration with Makai Watch Volunteer Program partners and funders, are offering an updated statewide training series this summer, following official recognition of the State of Hawaii Makai Watch program by the Board of Land and Natural Resources. This designation recognizes Makai Watch’s compliance with the newly established requirements of the state program.
Specific training dates are: Kaua‘i (April 18), Maui (April 25th, 9 am - 1 pm, Kaunoa Senior Center, Lahaina), Pupukea (May 2), Maunalua Bay (Oahu, May 16), and Hawai‘i Island (May 23).
The training includes an updated version of the Observation and Incident Reporting (OIR) Training series released in 2011, along with a newly developed Awareness Raising and Outreach (ARO) component known as ‘Ike Kai (to know, feel, understand, and comprehend, the ocean ). This component addresses common regulated species found in Makai Watch areas, ocean management tools, both traditional and modern, and promotes cultural awareness when engaging resource users.
“The ‘Ike Kai curriculum was an opportunity to weave in the cultural awareness involved with the management and enforcement of near shore resources”, said Edward Luna Kekoa, Statewide Makai Watch coordinator. “Many Makai Watch volunteers interact with local families and fishermen, and by sharing some of those cultural sensitivities, we believe those interactions will be more positive and productive.”
The Makai Watch Program is an officially recognized DLNR program in partnership with non-governmental organizations including The Nature Conservancy of Hawaiʻi (TNC), Kua'aina Ulu 'Auamo (KUA), Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund, Project S.E.A.-Link, and funding provided by Conservation International - Hawaii and the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation.
For more information about the training series or to learn more about the Makai Watch Program, please contact Luna Kekoa at (808) 349-6095 or Edward.L.Kekoa@hawaii.gov.
# # #
Images of Makai Watch volunteers can be found online at https://plus.google.com/u/0/101613020396360217549/posts
DLNR Public information specialist
Phone: (808) 587-0320
Submitted by Paul Brown, WMTA Board Member
Good evening and thank you for the opportunity to speak.
My name is Paul Brown. I am a resident of Kahana here in West Maui and I’m currently the Executive Director of Kapalua Resort Association, or KRA and a board member of the West Maui Taxpayers Association.
I have two funding requests that I would like to see added to the upcoming budget, funding for repaving Lower Honoapiilani Road from Kahana to Kapalua and funding assistance for the northward extension of the Kapalua Coastal Trail.
I won’t expand too much on the Lower Road repaving issue because I believe that all of the council members and the mayor are familiar with the deplorable and unsafe condition of the road. At this point, any long term redesign of the road is many years in the future but the need for immediate repaving of the roadway is critical. Please repave the road and add gravel paths on each side of the roadway easement for the safety of the many locals and visitors that walk and drive this scenic road.
My primary request is for funding assistance for extension of the Kapalua Coastal Trail. The coastal trail currently begins at Kapalua Bay and ends at D.T. Fleming Beach Park. The amazing trail provides public access for literally hundreds of people a day along some of the most beautiful coastline on Maui. The trail was built by Maui Land & Pineapple and is maintained by Kapalua Resort Association. KRA would like to extend the trail northward from Flemings to Honolua Bay. The trail design was completed and paid for by MLP and all of the necessary permits were issued although they have expired.
KRA would like to proceed with construction of the next section, from Flemings to Slaughter House bay but doesn’t have funding available to cover the estimated cost of $250,000. We recently received a pledge from a state trails agency to contribute $30,000 for the project and would like to ask the mayor and the council to earmark $150,000 from the county budget. KRA will work on finding other funding sources to cover the remainder and KRA will maintain the trail after it is built. MLP has granted permanent easements for the trail which is on MLP land.
The coastal trail, as well as the other trails in Kapalua are open to the public and in fact over 90% of the trail users are not Kapalua residents or resort guests but residents and visitors from other parts of the island. Please help us add another section to this beautiful trail.
Save the Date
HHARP MONTHLY MEETING
MARCH 28, 2018
West Maui Senior Center
Click here for more Info
MHLA CHARITY WALK
MAY 12, 2018
Sign up and join us to walk, or make a donation to our campaign
Stay tuned for info
FIRST Candidates Night
JULY 25, 2018
Lahaina Civic Center - Main Hall
Stay Tuned for Info
OCTOBER 18, 2018
Lahaina Civic Center - Main Hall
Stay tuned for info
WATCH THE 2018 ANNUAL MEETING
WATCH THE LATEST HOT TOPICS MEETING - Click Here
Disaster Preparedness Expo 2016 was a success!
Click here to view all the presentations
Click here for Posts regarding Expo.