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Council immersed in budget process

By Staff | Apr 28, 2011

Michael Freistat and Chelsey Piano (right) learned about county government by helping County Councilwoman Elle Cochran.

WAILUKU — This past month, I have been fortunate to add Chelsey Piano and Michael Freistat to my staff part-time to assist with a few key projects.

Chelsey is currently attending the University of Hawaii Maui College in hopes of securing a degree in political science or another of the social sciences. Through serving my constituents, Chelsey and Mike hope to gain a better understanding of the local governmental process. Michael will also be attending UHMC in the fall. He will be studying to be a radiology technician. Mike is an avid golfer in his free time.

On March 21, my staff and I participated in the County’s Tour de Trash hosted by Stacia Ash of the Department of Environmental Management. This tour was of particular interest to me, because I chair the council’s Infrastructure Management Committee, and I believe that we can improve our quality of life in so many ways by improving recycling and other waste-management methods. During the tour, we visited several recycling and solid-waste facilities throughout the island. It was great to see the inner workings of the county’s different facilities.

Currently, there is a possible plan for curbside recycling to come to fruition in Maui County. We are very excited about this, because this is a positive step toward keeping as much out of our landfills as possible.

On April 1, the council was visited by some students from Miyako Island in the Okinawan Prefecture of Japan. The students had won first place for the Hawaii State Science Bowl and are part of a foreign exchange program. Miyako has been a sister city with the County of Maui since 1965.

I attended the 42nd annual David Malo Day event at Lahainaluna High School on April 16. The day included a celebration of the 175th anniversary of the school’s unique boarding program and featured a gathering of past and present boarding students. It was so endearing to see so many boarders sharing in the commemoration.

The Maui County Council is currently in the midst of the Fiscal Year 2012 budget process. I was fortunate to be able to attend all of the district meetings and was very impressed with the amount of people that came out to testify about the needs of their communities. I thought the emotional outpouring really showcased the importance of these discussions. It is important for me to take into consideration the many constituents’ concerns and requests during this budget process.

Due to the extensive hours spent in the budget session, I haven’t had much time to meet with members of the West Maui community, but meetings will resume at the close of the budget. I look forward to resuming our regular Infrastructure Management Committee meetings to address the many important issues affecting our county.