Council funds important projects in Fiscal Year 2012 Budget
WAILUKU — The past three months have been devoted to a grueling budget session. Having always had respect for the budget process, I now have a much deeper understanding of the hard work and dedication that the Maui County Council members and the budget support staff must endure to ensure that a balanced and fair distribution of our taxpayers’ money takes place.
I would like to publicly thank Budget Legislative Analysts Scott Kaneshina and Michele Yoshimura, Committee Secretary Camille Sakamoto, as well as Legislative Attorneys Carla Nakata and David Raatz for their hard work and the long hours that they served assisting the council members with our different requests and needs.
I was proud to support a lot of positive funding decisions that came out of this budget session. One million dollars was set aside from the Open Space, Natural Resources, Cultural Resources and Scenic Views Preservation Fund to contribute to the land acquisition of Lipoa Point, Honolua; $2.6 million was allocated for Lahaina Watershed flood control; $1 million is to be used for Lower Honoapiilani Road improvements; $2.5 million will go to West Maui for water supply source improvements; and $21,000 went to the LahainaTown Action Committee on behalf of the respected Lahaina-Honolua Senior Citizens Club, Na Kupuna ‘Ohana Serenaders and Dancers.
It is worth mentioning that a few proposals that I introduced made it into the adopted Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Ordinances, which include $200,000 toward providing much-needed bus stops and shelters countywide; $10,000 for Kahana Canoe Club to facilitate and organize the highly anticipated Maui Nui Canoe Race (which is sure to bring international attention to Maui, Molokai and Lanai), and last but certainly not least, I was very happy to propose, for the first time, that money be set aside to upgrade and expand our county’s reclaimed water infrastructure, which will aid in the initiation of phasing out the use of injection wells.
Working alongside Department of Environmental Management Director Kyle Ginoza and Wastewater Reclamation Division Chief Eric Nakagawa, I was able to come up with a realistic figure that would get the process started without being too ambitious with our county’s tight funds. The idea was met with overwhelming support from most of my fellow council members and passed, giving $700,000 to West Maui reuse system improvements and $500,000 to Central Maui reclaimed water.
The council passed the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget on second and final reading on June 7. On June 13, it was back to committee work. My Infrastructure Management Committee met at 9 a.m. Monday morning and discussed the proposed steep terrain legislation. The draft bill is meant to minimize geological and hydrological hazards associated with development of hillside areas by requiring an engineering slope hazard report in specific instances.
After some healthy discussion with committee members, concerns were raised by the Department of Public Works about unintended consequences that the bill could have if passed in its current form. The committee decided to defer the item while the department works with their engineers and Corporation Counsel to draft language that would be supported by the department, and could then be reexamined by the committee.
At the June 17 council meeting, I was thrilled to introduce a resolution honoring Maiki Tihada Viela, a recent graduate (with honors) of Lahainaluna High School, for being named to the Parade All-American High School Girls Basketball Team and for being inducted into the Hawaii High School Athletic Hall of Honor.
Maiki was joined by her mother, father and grandfather as we recognized her for all of her many athletic accomplishments over the years. I wish her well as she continues her impressive journey at Gonzaga University in the State of Washington on a full athletic scholarship. You have made Maui County proud, Maiki. Imua!
My office bid a fond farewell to one of my two full-time executive assistants, Dana Broncheau, who is moving to the Mainland with her daughter, Sydney. Dana worked for my predecessor (former Councilwoman Jo Anne Johnson) through four different council terms and helped me to make a seamless transition into office when I began my first term back in January. She has been a great asset to my office and will be missed. We wish her well.
My new executive assistant, Jordan Molina, came highly recommended. Jordan worked as an executive assistant for former Councilman Sol Kaho’ohalahala. Born and raised on Maui, Jordan went to Kamehameha Schools (Kapalama Campus) and then graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Engineering from Oregon State in 2010. In his free time, he enjoys surfing, playing acoustic guitar and volunteering with Waikikena Farms, a nonprofit organization that perpetuates traditional agricultural practices and cultural values. We are very fortunate to have found Jordan, and I look forward to utilizing his specialized knowledge and education for some key environmental issues in my Infrastructure Management committee.
Since the May “Council Connection” was not possible, I would like to take a moment to thank our many veterans that have given their lives for our freedom and to congratulate all of the Maui County 2011 graduates. I hope you are all enjoying a safe summer break before heading off to college. Maui County wishes you all full and productive futures.