Committees are in full swing, taking up key issues

Published in The Maui News, Feb. 1, 2015
By MIKE WHITE, for The Maui News

The Maui County Council’s standing committees are working hard to review an array of legislation and other policy issues before the council’s annual budget review begins at the end of next month.

The Committee of the Whole last Tuesday reviewed the status of the federal case brought by the Hawaii Wildlife Fund and other organizations relating to the county’s waste-management practices. There is a lot at stake in this litigation for both county taxpayers and Maui’s environment.

COW Feb. 6 agenda: MauiCounty.us/meeting/150206cow

The Planning Committee conducted a meeting and site inspections on Lanai on Wednesday, continuing its work on the island’s community plan. The Land Use Committee met on Lanai the same day to consider Pulama Lana’i’s request to rezone the old police station in Lanai City for mixed uses.

Committee meetings full schedule

The Land Use Committee returns to the Council Chambers Monday for a 9 a.m. meeting on the proposed 86-acre Puunene Heavy Industrial Subdivision. At 1:30 p.m. Monday, the Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee will discuss restoration of Maui’s coral reefs and the definition of “sustainability” under the Maui County Charter.

On Thursday at 1:30 p.m., the Housing, Human Services and Transportation Committee will conduct a meeting on the Maui Bus and other transit options. Representatives from the county Department of Transportation and Maui Economic Opportunity will provide updates.

The council meeting on Friday at 9 a.m. will feature the first committee reports issued in the new council term. The Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee is recommending Corporation Counsel Patrick Wong and Water Director David Taylor each be confirmed for another four-year term. Various nominations to boards and commissions will also be covered.

Review committee meetings: MauiCounty.us/calendar

The first ordinances enacted in 2015 amend the county’s list of trees entitled to special protection, known as “exceptional trees.” By ordinances 4180 through 4186, the council has added four trees to the list and deleted three others that are either diseased or pose safety hazards.

At the end of this month, I will join several council members in Washington, D.C., for the National Association of Counties’ legislative conference. Council Member Riki Hokama, NACo’s president, will preside over the conference, which will provide opportunities for professional development and networking with other county officials.

I look forward to meeting with Hawaii’s congressional delegation and other federal officials to advocate for Maui County’s interests.

I represented the council at the state Capitol on Jan. 26 for Gov. David Ige’s State of the State address and a legislative briefing on county finances. I’ve been meeting with officials in both state and county government throughout Hawaii to ensure counties’ interests are given due consideration during the state legislative session, which began Jan. 21 and is scheduled to run until May 7.

Track bills: MauiCounty.us/2015stateleg

We are working on updating the council’s news site, mauicounty.us, to include helpful resources for the public to track bills before the council. Other resources such as the 2015 council calendar, tips on providing written and oral testimony to the council and information on testimony I submit to the state Legislature are also available.

If you have any questions while you’re on the site, a live chat window connects you with council staff during office hours. In addition, you can always reach the council on Facebook at fb.com/mauicountycouncil and on Twitter at @mauicounty.

Mahalo.

* Mike White is the chairman of the Maui County Council and holds the council seat for the Paia-Haiku-Makawao residency area. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.

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Council submits bills to Legislature: Sunshine Law change; hemp study

Published in The Maui News, Jan. 18, 2015
By MIKE WHITE for, The Maui News

The opening day of this year’s state legislative session is on Wednesday.

As a former member of the state House of Representatives, I know how important the Legislature’s work is to the people of Maui County. Aside from working with our state legislators, I will make my office available to make sure the voices of Lanai, Maui and Molokai residents are heard during the session.

The Maui County Council has submitted a legislative package containing two state bills. One bill would allow the University of Hawaii Maui College to research industrial hemp, while the other bill would make council members more accessible to constituents.

A state law enacted last year approved a two-year industrial hemp research program, but only at a single testing site on Oahu. The council has noted the potential economic development benefits of this crop, and believes allowing demonstration projects in each county may yield better research results.

The council also seeks to amend a section in the state Sunshine Law to allow members of a county council to jointly attend and speak at community meetings where informational presentations are made. Under current interpretations of the law, Maui County council members – elected officials who represent all Maui County residents – can’t freely attend such gatherings.

Consequently, opportunities to educate ourselves on important issues are limited. Some of you may have even seen council members reluctantly leave important community meetings because of Sunshine Law concerns.

Hawaii State Capitol

I will also track state bills that may affect the county’s revenue and taxing authority.

During the last session, the counties fought for a fair share of the hotel room tax, also known as transient accommodations tax, or TAT. After extensive lobbying efforts, a meager $10 million out of the potential $72 million was returned to the counties.

This year, the TAT will continue to be a priority. Restoring the counties’ share of the TAT is a vote in support of much-needed county assistance to maintain a healthy visitor industry across the state.

I will also monitor bills with a direct impact on county operations and home rule, capital improvement projects in Maui County and other issues of special concern, such as legislation on the hospital system.

On behalf of county residents, I will submit testimony to explain my position on select items. To read the bills being tracked and testimony I submit, please go to mauicounty.us/2015stateleg. The 2015 Hawaii State Association of Counties’ legislative package is also available on the website.

Meanwhile, the work of the council (which is in session throughout the year) continues with committee meetings.

On Thursday, the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee is expected to consider nominations to boards and commissions, as well as the reappointment of Corporation Counsel Patrick Wong, Prosecuting Attorney John Kim and Water Director David Taylor.

Check the council schedule at mauicounty.us/calendar for confirmation of meetings and background on agenda items.
Citizen participation in the council’s work is imperative. I placed two pahu niu (coconut drums) in the Council Chambers to symbolize the calling together of members of the community, and I look forward to working with you.

Mahalo.

* Mike White is the chairman of the Maui County Council and holds the council seat for the Paia-Haiku-Makawao residency area. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.

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County service center design to receive final OK

Published in The Maui News, Jan. 11, 2015
By Mike White, for The Maui News

The proposed new county service center in Kahului is moving forward.

As recommended by the County Council’s Budget and Finance Committee, Bills 95 and 96 (2014), providing funding for the service center’s design and construction, will be considered for second and final reading at the first regular council meeting of the new term on Friday at 9 a.m.

County Service Center

The bills include budget amendments for architectural and engineering design fees of $1.6 million for the project at Maui Business Park Phase II.

The county pays more than $3 million annually to rent office space at the Maui Mall and other locations in Central Maui. With the new county service center in Kahului and the Kalana O Maui expansion in Wailuku’s civic center, the need to rent costly office space will be reduced.

While I support expansion to address employees’ constricted working environments, I urge the administration to always work within the county’s means and exercise fiscal prudence. I look forward to keeping tabs on construction plans to ensure these projects are developed efficiently.

The council will also consider referring to the appropriate committees various matters that were originally submitted near the end of the prior term. Among these items are:

  • Land use entitlements for expansion of the Maui Research & Technology Park in Kihei.
  • Updating the comprehensive zoning ordinance to incorporate changes to the parks districts recommended by the Lanai, Maui and Molokai planning commissions.
  • A bill introduced by Council Member Elle Cochran to facilitate composting at appropriate locations throughout Maui County.
  • A communication from Council Member Robert Carroll about health and safety concerns at the Lower Nahiku Bridge in East Maui.
  • A request to grant a license to install more electric-vehicle charging stations for the JUMPSmartMaui program.

Review Friday’s agenda at MauiCounty.us/calendar.

Council committees also return to work this week.

The Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Council Member Mike Victorino, will meet Monday at 9 a.m. to review Resolution 15-4, relating to the Rules of the Council. The rules were referred for further review after being adopted at the Jan. 2 organizational meeting.

The rules establish how the council conducts its business and cover topics such as executive meetings, testimony, attendance and even travel. Review the current rules at MauiCounty.us/rules.

A discussion on open data will be considered Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. by the Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture and Recreation Committee, chaired by Council Member Don Guzman. He is working on a pilot project to make government information more readily accessible in collaboration with Maui’s high-tech community.

Correction: Committee discussion on open data that had been planned for Tuesday afternoon and referenced in Sunday’s Chair’s 3 Minutes column has been postponed. Written testimony on the matter can be sent to ear.committee@mauicounty.us, referencing EAR-39. Please call 270-7665 for any questions.

The Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee, chaired by Cochran, will meet Monday at 1:30 p.m. to get updates from the departments of Public Works and Environmental Management. Each department’s director will provide an overview of current operations and highlight opportunities where the council and administration can work together on new solutions.

Finally, the opening day of the 28th state legislature is Jan. 21. We’ll keep you in the loop on the County Council’s lobbying efforts.

Mahalo.

* Mike White is the chairman of the Maui County Council and holds the council seat for the Paia-Haiku-Makawao residency area. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to MauiCounty.us for more information.

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Council team in place with high expectations for progress

Published in The Maui News, Jan. 4, 2015
By MIKE WHITE, for The Maui News

Friday morning’s inauguration ceremony for the 2015-2017 Maui County Council provided a great opportunity for the county’s elected officials to reaffirm our commitment to work together for the constituents we all serve.

The new term formally began on Friday afternoon with the adoption of resolutions to appoint officers and employees and establish standing committees. For the first time in recent memory, legislative proposals were referred to committees on the first day of the term, allowing the new council to work on bills and resolutions without delay.

The first round of committee meetings will begin next week, several weeks earlier than usual. Although the leadership of most committees will remain the same, there are a few changes in roles.

C3M Committees

Aside from serving as vice chair of the council, Council Member Don Guzman, who holds the Kahului residency seat, continues to chair the Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture and Recreation Committee. Guzman, an attorney, also chairs the Committee of the Whole, which is responsible for vetting litigation matters.

Council Member Riki Hokama (Lanai) now chairs the Budget and Finance Committee and will lead the council in shaping the county’s budget for fiscal year 2016. His committee also reviews amendments to the current budget.

Hokama is president of the National Association of Counties, a former council chairman and a prior budget chairman. His experience and knowledge will be especially valuable in guiding the annual budget session.

Council Member Stacy Crivello (Molokai) retains her leadership of the Housing, Human Services and Transportation Committee. This committee maintains its jurisdiction over social programs, the Maui Bus and efforts to develop more housing for the county’s working families.

Council Member Elle Cochran (West Maui) continues to chair the Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee. This provides her the ability to continue to lead discussions on a variety of conservation efforts, including the county’s recycling program.

The Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee will now be chaired by Council Member Mike Victorino (Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu). Victorino is also the council’s presiding officer pro tempore and the county’s representative on the Hawaii State Association of Counties’ executive committee.

Council Member Gladys Baisa (Upcountry) has taken over the Water Resources Committee. This post will allow her to focus on long-standing water infrastructure concerns, including the lingering Upcountry water meter waiting list. With a track record of achieving results, she will be able to work with the administration to identify long-term solutions.

Council Member Bob Carroll (East Maui) continues to chair the Land Use Committee. The committee vets land use applications, including requests for zoning changes and affordable-housing developments under Chapter 201H of the Hawaii Revised Statues.

Council Member Don Couch (South Maui) remains chair of the Planning Committee. His committee is expected to review the Lanai Community Plan update early in the new term.

There is much to be done over the next two years, and we have a great team to make tremendous progress.

Most important, I am always here to listen. If you have any ideas for legislation that will benefit county residents, please feel free to contact me. My email address is mike.white@mauicounty.us.

I look forward to working with all of you. Mahalo.

* Mike White is the chairman of the Maui County Council and holds the council seat for the Paia-Haiku-Makawao residency area. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to MauiCounty.us for more information.

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Press Release: White to chair county council; seeks fiscal responsibility and a focus on the positives

Press release by:
Council Chair Mike White
Maui County Council

White to chair county council; seeks fiscal responsibility and a focus on the positives

WAILUKU, Hawaii – The council at its organizational meeting today voted to appoint Councilmember Mike White as chair for the 2015-2017 term, his office announced today.

MBW Inag 1
“I look forward to working with a great team in crafting quality legislation for the next two years,” said White. “I will work hard to guide council operations and facilitate a healthy working relationship among members and with the administration.”

Councilmember Don S. Guzman of Kahului was appointed as council vice-chair and Councilmember Michael P. Victorino of the Wailuku-Waihee-Waiehu residency area as presiding officer pro tempore.

The council also adopted Resolution 15-5, establishing the following committees:

  • Budget and Finance Committee, chaired by Councilmember Riki Hokama of Lanai.
  • Committee of the Whole and Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture and Recreation Committee, both chaired by Guzman.
  • Human Services and Transportation Committee, chaired Councilmember Stacy Crivello of Molokai.
  • Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee, chaired by Councilmember Elle Cochran of West Maui.
  • Land Use Committee, chaired by Councilmember Robert Carroll of East Maui.
  • Planning Committee, chaired by Councilmember Don Couch of South Maui.
  • Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Victorino.
  • Water Resources Committee, chaired by Councilmember Gladys C. Baisa of Upcountry Maui.

MBW Inag 2

“We are ready to work and deliver results,” White said.

White said committee chairs are anxious to get work done, especially with unresolved issues carried over the past term.

The council reappointed Danny Mateo as county clerk and Josiah Nishita as deputy county clerk.

White shared four guiding leadership principles he has practiced for more than 40 years in the private sector:

  • Focus on the positive, remember to count blessings.
  • Always do the right thing, do what is pono.
  • Be responsible with money, be frugal and use only what you need.
  • Have an open and honest communication.

White placed two pahu niu (coconut drums) in the Chamber to symbolize the calling together of members of the community.

“I pledge to you that we will be straight with you, we will communicate openly with you, we will be positive and helpful, and we will be responsible with your money,” White said.

“Most important, we will do what is pono!”

White holds the seat for the Makawao-Paia-Haiku residency area. This is his third term on the Maui County Council, after he previously served in the state House of Representatives.

For the latest news, follow @mauicounty on Twitter.

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Remarks: Taking on the role as council chair

Council Chair Mike White delivered these remarks immediately after being elected as Council Chair by his colleagues at the Council’s Inauguration meeting on Friday, January 2, 2015.
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I am honored and humbled by the support of the Maui Community having reelected me to the Council and by my fellow Council members having elected me to the position of Council chair. Mahalo for your support!

We are blessed to have a strong team with all 9 members of the previous Council returning for another term. We know each other’s strengths and will take advantage of that for the benefit of our community.

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The council has the responsibility to the community of Maui to provide leadership in several ways:

  • We create and update the policies in the Maui County Code to provide direction for our citizens and for the Administration.
  • We control the purse strings of the County through the budget review process and other means.
  • We provide oversight and ensure accountability for County operations.

I am confident that each of our members will do great work for the people of Maui with their new and continuing committee assignments.

As Council Chair……my responsibility is to guide council operations and facilitate a healthy working relationship among our members and with the administration.

There are four guiding principals, emphasized in my family, which I will bring to my responsibilities as your chair. These principles have served me well during my 40 years in leadership roles in the private sector.

  • The first is to always focus on the positive as we do our work. My mother was a social worker and juvenile probation officer for over 25 years on Oahu. One of her main goals in life was to have everyone around her focus on the positive and remember to count our blessings.
  • Secondly, from both of my parents and both sets of grandparents came a very strong message to always do the right thing, do what is pono! You will always be well served by this practice.
  • Third was a lesson to be responsible with money, to be frugal. My Father set a great example by spending money only on necessities. My dad was six foot four inches tall and over a forty five-year span of his life he dove only four vehicles: a Volkswagen Beetle, a Volkswagen Rabbit, a 2-door Honda CRX and finally upsized to a Honda Accord. I often asked why he did not buy himself a bigger car that would be more comfortable for him, and he would simply reply “Because I don’t need it.”
  • Last is the focus on the importance of open and honest communication. We have placed two Pahu Niu here in the chamber today because they symbolize communication and the calling together of members of the community. Our processes are open by design and we will continue to work hard…. Calling the community together to provide their mana’o and remain engaged. Openness and Honesty from all of us is what you, the community, deserves.

I have been blessed to serve in various positions in both the private and pubic sectors over the years and to have had the chance to apply these principles in a variety of settings. These 4 principles apply equally well in this place of work as they do in our lives at home and in our community.

I pledge to you that what you can count on from this Council is that:

  • we will be straight with you,
  • we will communicate openly with you,
  • we will be positive and helpful,
  • we will be responsible with your money,
  • and, most importantly, WE . . . Will do what is PONO!

Mahalo again for your support!

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Viewpoint: A new year, a new council term

Happy New Year, Maui County!  I hope you are enjoying this holiday season and spending quality time with family and friends. As the firework smoke settles and the festive parties come to an end, we can look forward to what 2015 will bring.

Tomorrow, the Maui County Council will begin its 2015-2017 term. Although official business will not take place until after the inauguration, the members of the Council-elect have been diligently laying the groundwork for the next two years.

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With all nine members returning, the Council has the positive opportunity to “hit the ground running” and continue tackling many of the issues facing our County.

Following the election, one of the first discussions among members was on the structure of committees and selecting a leadership team.  Although the official vote is yet to occur, I am honored that my peers have slated me to serve as their new council chair.  Serving as chair has many responsibilities that I am excited to take on, but it is only one component of a well-functioning Council.

For me, shared leadership is important in creating a successful body. Therefore, each of my colleagues will play a significant role in the operation of the organization. Each member is slated to lead a committee and will focus on a specific area of our County.

Communication with the public will remain a top priority. Everyone has busy lives and keeping track of legislation at the Council can sometimes be a challenge. Civic engagement and participation in government however, is a critical component in developing laws that will better our community.

With this in mind, one of my goals is to make the make following the Council an easier process for you, a community member. One of my initiatives will be to streamline public accessibility of information on bills and resolutions while enhancing the information that is shared on pending legislation.

Fiscal responsibility will also continue to be an emphasis, as it has been during my tenure on the Council. It is imperative that Maui County lives within its means. We are fortunate to be in a very strong financial position thanks to many wise decisions made by my predecessors. The Council must move forward with prudent decisions and avoid saddling future generations with huge debt.

However, keeping expenditures in check does not mean status quo.  It equates to ensuring operations are done in the most efficient manner, while maintaining our facilities and aging infrastructure through strategic investments that will help to grow and stimulate our economy.

Economic data suggests that Maui County is improving year by year, yet there are continuing challenges regarding the amount of time it takes to get through our governmental processes.  Obtaining permits remains a burden to moving needed projects forward and it is vital that this process be improved. The County and State can do a better job of creating an environment in which businesses and residents are able to expand their facilities or homes and create new jobs in the process.  After all, a strong economy creates a strong Maui County community.

Working with the Arakawa Administration will be important in making these positive changes a reality. A healthy working relationship includes a respect for the two distinct branches of government.

The legislative branch is meant to be deliberative and open for public vetting and scrutiny. As a Council body, we have processes and the responsibility to ensure that each proposal is well thought out and serves the best interest of the community. This openness and transparency makes government accountable to you, the residents.

I am a strong believer in this process and in maintaining the independence of the legislative branch. Asking tough questions and finding the best solutions is not always easy or comfortable but it is the way to reach the best results for Maui County taxpayers.

In closing, there is much to be done, but I know the Council is up to the task. Making positive progress will not always be easy, but I am confident that by working together with respect, we will be able to do the work you expect of us and keep Maui County no ka oi!

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Leadership of Maui County Council committees announced

Press Release by:
Councilmember Mike White (www.mauicounty.gov/white)

Leadership of Maui County Council committees announced

WAILUKU, Hawai‘i – Leadership roles for five of the Maui County Council standing committees will remain unchanged in the upcoming term, Councilmember Mike White announced today.

Stacy Crivello will continue to chair the Housing, Human Services, and Transportation Committee, Elle Cochran will chair the Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee, and Don Guzman will chair the Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture, and Recreation Committee. Both Don Couch and Robert Carroll have also committed to remain as chair of the Planning Committee and chair of the Land Use Committee, respectively, due to the progress and leadership shown during the past term.

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New changes include the Budget and Finance Committee being led by Riki Hokama. Michael Victorino has agreed to chair the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee and a new Committee of the Whole will be established to focus on litigation matters and headed by Don Guzman.

“Although our economy continues to rebound, we still face many fiscal challenges that we must tackle here at home, and at the state and federal levels. The Council must work strategically to ensure a strong financial future for our County,” said Councilmember Riki Hokama.

Gladys Baisa has agreed to chair the Water Resources Committee. “I am pleased that Gladys has accepted leadership of the Water Committee. She has had the desire for many years to take on this issue and has the vision and knowhow to tackle many of our longstanding water issues,” said White.

As previously announced, Mike White has the support to chair the Maui County Council and Don Guzman will serve as vice-chair during the 2015-2017 Council term starting January 2.

“My intent is to have continuity on the Council, with every member taking on leadership roles to allow for pending issues to be thoroughly addressed, while focusing on the needs of our Maui County residents,” said White.

With the majority of committee chairmanships remaining the same, members are expected to hit the ground running, with committee meetings beginning in January.

“We are committed to working together as a Council, with the administration, and most importantly, our community, to identify our most pressing issues, and move forward with solutions. I know we are all eager to get to work,” said Councilmember Don Guzman.

According to White, making progress on issues facing our community is a top priority for the upcoming term and the organizational structure represents this focus.

“Collaboration and cooperation among members and the administration will be the key to our success,” said White. “Don Guzman and I have already started this process by meeting with the mayor, managing director and chief of staff. We know we can put our differences aside and agree on what is most important, serving our residents,” he said.

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Maui County Council organizes for upcoming term

Press Release by:
Councilmember Mike White (www.mauicounty.gov/white)

Maui County Council organizes for upcoming term

WAILUKU, Hawai‘i – Mike White will chair the Maui County Council and Don Guzman will serve as vice-chair during the 2015-2017 Council term, which begins January 2.

With the membership unchanged, the Council was able to quickly organize and prepare for the upcoming term. “We have many important issues the Council must tackle, and we are ready to get to work,” said Councilmember White. “It is important that the internal administrative work is well underway so we can focus on the critical issues that directly impact our Maui County residents.”

Many of the leadership roles for each of the standing committees will remain unchanged from the current term and are currently being finalized.

“The County Council will continue to be a place where residents should feel free to voice their concerns,” added Councilmember Guzman. “We work for you and it is only through collaboration and working together will we be able to find long-term solutions for our County. Our doors are always open,” he said.

The Council’s inauguration ceremony is scheduled for Friday, January 2, in the Council Chamber starting at 10:00 a.m. and is open to the public.

“I look forward to the new Council term and working with the administration to address the needs of our residents, while continuing to shape Maui County into a place we can proudly call our home,” said White.

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Statement on Mayor’s line-item veto, Council approves override

Councilmember Mike White made the following statement at the June 23 Council meeting on Mayor Alan Arakawa’s line-item vetoes. White made a general motion to override the line-item vetoes and was supported by the Council 9-0.

I would like to note that approval of this motion requires a two-thirds vote of the entire membership of the Council, pursuant to Section 4-3 of the Revised Charter of the County of Maui (1983), as amended.

OPENING

Although this veto represents democracy in action, it is important for residents to understand what is at risk.  The vetoes remove essential components of the budget specifically requested by the residents.

Your Budget and Finance Committee held 26 meetings in the Council Chamber and 8 meetings in every district, including Hana, Molokai and Lanai.  Over 500 individuals provided testimony, 464 people mailed survey responses, and 308 people sent e-mails.

Through extensive public input, the community requested the Council to address specific needs in the budget.  The people’s Council listened to the community by adopting a budget unanimously that will move the County forward not only for the upcoming year, but for generations to come.

I would like to address the specific concerns in the Mayor’s veto.

COMMUNITY PROJECTS

Kahului Community Center has served the community well over the years, but with a growing community comes the increased demand for community facilities.  The Council strongly supported the community’s desire for a New Kahului Community Center by providing the funding to move this project forward. A Location has been both identified and secured.   The Mayor is in a position to expedite the design process, but unfortunately, the choice was made to place the entire project on the chopping block.

The South Maui Community Park gymnasium is a laudable project that unfortunately will be delayed indefinitely or canceled due to the Mayor’s veto.  This project supports proposed developments in South Maui and provides a sorely needed facility for one of the State’s fastest growing communities. The Council chose to expand the scope of the project to design for a multipurpose center in hopes of attracting larger sporting events and conferences to draw more economic activity to the island.  South Maui has long been waiting for its fair share of County park facilities, and may now have to wait even longer.

An expansion of the Kula Agricultural Park would create additional farm lands and truly promotes local agriculture, but the project has also unfortunately been vetoed. The veto puts the County at risks losing the $5M in State funds appropriated for this project.

IMPORTANCE OF WATER

In regards to water, water availability for residents has been discussed prolifically, with promise after promise to deliver water meters.  At a special pau hana meeting on the water rates and fees, Council members heard directly from the residents that action is needed and needed now!  The Council responded by appropriating $12.6 million for Countywide Mainline and Infrastructure Improvements.

The funds will be used to deliver residents their water meters by offsetting the exorbitant cost of upgrading the County’s inadequate water system that homeowners are required to pay. Details on the implementation of this program will need to be finalized, but it represents a major step forward in solving the long-standing water meter issue. The Committee listened and delivered, but this is another community initiative now at-risk.

RECYCLING

I would like to specially address the administrations comments regarding cutting landfill hours and holiday residential pick-ups.

County recycling drop boxes, along with all the County’s recycling programs were once again coming under attack by the actions of the Mayor.  After the Budget bill passed out of committee, the Department of Environmental of Management began advising recycling contractors that they would only commit to a half year contract for Fiscal Year 2015.

Therefore, the Council simply secured the funding to maintain programs the community has been demanding. The Council felt that funds designated for Environmental Protection and Sustainability should be used for purposes of waste diversion and recycling in the manner it was budgeted.  No more or less.  The Council’s focus was to ensure that well-established recycling efforts will continue.  In this 21st century, caring for our environment must be a top priority.

Solid Waste services, if managed properly, should not be impacted by any of the budget provisions or appropriations.  The Department was given 99.1% of the amount included in the Mayor’s proposed budget, including an additional $337,000 more for landfill operations in this coming Fiscal Year.

Therefore, to characterize that landfill hours will be cut because of the Council’s actions is puzzling at best.

With the appropriations in the upcoming budget, the administration has the ability to continue all services as they have in the past.  This is the second year in a row that the administration has focused on sacrificing important recycling programs to shift resources to the landfill operations.

I have full confidence in our county managers to carryout their budget as presented before the Council.

BOND AUTHORIZATION

Concerns over the bond authorization are unfounded and have been discussed at length. The budget as passed by the Council is balanced and will not result in a short-fall.  I have confidence in this Council and our staff to ensure that we have dotted our “I’s” and crossed our “T’s” to meet all of the charter’s legal requirements.

In fact, the authority to withhold bond authorization has been a long-standing practice of the Council.  Past members of this Council have supported this practice.

I quote a past Councilmember, “I think the concept of allowing the exploration of projects without the actual bond float, the money to go with it, requiring the Administration to come back to us so that they can explain what the projects are before the actual money is allocated is a good policy.”  This quote came from Councilmember Alan Arakawa, dated April 27, 2001.  He made the motion to pass all the budget bills knowing that the there was no bond authorization for the West Maui Senior Center, the West Maui Resource Center and the Lanai Multi-purpose Center projects listed in the budget.

I agree with the sentiment of our Mayor, the practice of withholding bond authorization contributes toward greater public access to information and supports the Council’s responsibility to ensure that taxpayer dollars are well spent.  Withholding bond authorization allows the project to remain as a placeholder in the budget while providing for additional oversight from the Council.  Before taking out the loan to finance these projects, both the Council and public are given the opportunity to receive more detail and better understand how funds will be spent.

Following the passage of the budget out of Committee, the Department of the Corporation Counsel requested the General Budget Provisions be amended to expressly account for the withholding of authorization to issue general obligation bonds appropriated for certain projects.

To address this concern, a technical revision has been incorporated in the Budget bill. The new first sentence in Section 8 of the General Budget Provisions reads, “General obligation bonds appropriated in this ordinance need not be authorized contemporaneously with this ordinance to be included as estimated revenues.”

The Council decided to take a formal vote on the General Budget provisions and it was explicitly stated in the committee report that this provision was at the request of the Department of Corporation Counsel.

CONCLUSION

In closing, the mayor’s concerns are simply lacking in facts.

It is imperative that your government listens.  Each us worked hard to craft a balanced budget based on what residents requested.

I have faith in the administration to carry these appropriations out as they requested in their presentations and discussions with us on the floor.

Actions speak louder than words and I believe all of these projects are crucial to the long-term progress of our County and vital for us to continue being, “Maui No Ka Oi.”

Mahalo!

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