LAHAINA - West Siders can hear the latest news on the proposed West Maui Hospital, skate park under construction in Lahaina, the Lahaina Bypass and affordable housing projects at the West Maui Taxpayers Association's 2012 Annual Meeting on Thursday, Jan. 12.
Free and open to the public, the event will begin with registration and food service at 5 p.m. at Lahaina Civic Center.
A brief regular business meeting and election of the board of directors starts at 5:30 p.m., followed by speakers and special presentations.
The agenda includes updates from Gov. Neil Abercrombie or a representative, Mayor Alan Arakawa, Sen. Roz Baker, Rep. Angus McKelvey and County Councilwoman Elle Cochran.
"The Annual Meeting is your opportunity to hear the latest on WMTA's issues and to hear from your government officials. We expect to have some very exciting news on several fronts for West Maui at this meeting, so please plan to join us," noted WMTA President Don Lehman.
He explained that the organization is currently tracking the County General Plan update to share information on its progress and respond to issues that could impact Maui's
visitor and construction industries.
The WMTA board - Paul Brown, Pam English, Jim Hentz, Richard Jarman, Ezekiela "Zeke" Kalua, Byron "Pat" Kelly, Lehman, Gregg Nelson, Joseph Pluta, Bob Pure, Uwe Schulz and Richard Starkweather - recently hosted a presentation by the county Planning Department on the proposed ordinance for short-term rentals.
Members offered several suggestions concerning stronger enforcement and pursuit of violations.
"Most recently, WMTA testified in support of the Kahoma Residential Subdivision before the County (Council's) Land Use Committee. This infill project along Kahoma Stream near the old mill site represents the best opportunity we have seen in a long time to provide affordable housing in Lahaina," Lehman wrote in his December update.
"WMTA has testified in support of affordable housing at every opportunity, including Pulelehua earlier this year."
Goals for 2012 include promoting the completion of the Lahaina Bypass and other traffic mitigation projects in West Maui, pursuing upgrades and paving of Lower Honoapiilani Road, lobbying for improvements to Honoapiilani Highway from the Pali to Lahaina Town to protect the single access in and out of West Maui and spurring the county to complete the Shaw Street sidewalk from Front Street to Honoapiilani Highway.
Capital improvement priorities include pressing the county to upgrade the pump station at Honoapiilani Highway and Kaanapali Parkway to address the sewer odor problem; pursuing funding for improvements to the Honokowai sewage treatment plant to reuse treated wastewater, instead of using injection wells; supporting development of new water sources; and backing development of an off-highway bicycle greenway for West Maui.
In representing taxpayers, WMTA also plans to press for reform of the county employee pension system, "so it is fair to taxpayers and more equivalent to the private sector;" support reforming the permitting process and changing the Planning Department's focus more to customer service with fewer bureaucratic hurdles; promoting business-friendly regulatory and tax policies for enhanced job creation, especially in the hospitality industry; and supporting fairness and certainty in real property taxation.
Anyone who lives, works, visits or owns property in West Maui is encouraged to attend WMTA's Annual Meeting.
For more than 35 years, WMTA has worked to promote infrastructure investment in roads, parks, health care facilities, fire and ambulance stations and many other community improvements.
Historically, WMTA has focused on tax revenues generated in West Maui being reinvested in the region.
"Affordable housing, traffic problems and health care have traditionally been the top three issues identified by our WMTA members. WMTA is always working with the West Maui Improvement Foundation to bring a critical access hospital to West Maui and strongly supports the many successes of Lahaina Bypass Now to address West Maui traffic problems," Lehman noted.
For more information on the meeting or joining the West Maui Taxpayers Association, visit www.westmaui.org.