Residents present budget requests to administration
LAHAINA — It was standing room only at the Maui County budget meeting last week Tuesday at Lahaina Civic Center.
Mayor Charmaine Tavares and her administration came to listen to the needs of the West Maui community before preparing the fiscal year 2010-11 county budget.
According to the county website, over $12,000,000 has already been allocated to the Lahaina Watershed Flood Control Project, $1,000,000 for West Maui water source improvements, $750,000 for the Civic Center tennis courts and millions of dollars for road resurfacing and park improvements.
Tavares asked, “Which programs shall we continue to fund?”
“Please remember, we will be experiencing our major shortfall in 2010,” she added.
The mayor highlighted the county’s projects in West Maui.
“In 2008, there were 38,000 passengers from West Maui who used the Maui Bus; of those, 18,000 traveled from West Maui to Central Maui. And the West Maui Skate Board Park has been designated next to the Lahaina aquatics park,” Tavares explained.
William Salawich, a local contractor, reminded the mayor that the skate park will need lighting, a drinking fountain and shade trees. “Please see the project all the way through, so it will open with everything in place,’ he requested.
May Fujiwara, representing the Lahaina-Honolua Senior Citizens Club, told the mayor that as much as they love the bus, disabled seniors still need the ADA Paratransit Service for door-to-door service, so they can go to medical appointments, shop for food and enjoy the activities at the West Maui Senior Center.
“The Head Start Program needs to run all day, so parents do not have to worry about what to do with their children for half-a-day. And we ask that you continue to fund bus service for the after-school Lahaina Complex Tutoring Program,” Fujiwara concluded.
Pat Endsley added that the free after-school tutoring program is in all Lahaina Complex public schools. There are 152 reading and math volunteers working with over 300 students. The county’s grant money for this program helps to provide the students with free bus transportation, books, supplies and snacks.
Speakers also asked for continued financial support for community agencies that benefit the land, water and animals.
Les Potts, a member of the Honolua Advisory Council, praised Community Work Day Program for supplying roll-off dumpsters to help remove old trucks and cars, refrigerators, air conditioners and other junk from the Honolua area. Potts asked for continued support for the “cleanup on the other side of Honokahau, where there is a huge dump over the side of a cliff, headed for the sea.”
Randy Bartlett, watershed manager for Maui Land & Pineapple Co. Inc., asked for continued support for volunteer groups, Maui Invasive Species Committee and the West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership to control miconia in the East Maui Watershed and reduce the spread of coqui frogs and axis deer island-wide.
Board Member Bonnie Nelson spoke on behalf of the Maui Humane Society. She explained that funds already allocated in the county budget were $70,000 short. Additional money is needed to replace ten obsolete computers, purchase a modular building to relieve staff overcrowding, and bring their septic system up to state standards.
Steve Ashfield of the county Parks and Recreation Department offered a way to pay for all the budget requests. He predicted that next year, the state will take the transient accommodations tax (TAT). He suggested that all the mayors keep the General Excise Tax (GET)
“If they take the TAT, we should get the GET,” he said.