Baldwin Avenue Rehabilitation Project, Phase II to Begin

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawai‘i – The County of Maui Department of Public Works announced that the Baldwin Avenue Rehabilitation Project, Phase II, is scheduled to start on Wednesday, March 8, 2017.

The project includes pavement reconstruction of Baldwin Avenue between Hana Highway and Haliimaile Road with an asphalt concrete, asphalt-treated base and aggregate base course pavement section. Other work includes cold planing and resurfacing of existing pavement, installation of pavement striping and markers, installation of signs, reconstruction of the concrete sidewalk and other incidental work.

The contractor, HI-BUILT, LLC, plans to start with sidewalk reconstruction beginning next week until May 20, 2017, to be followed by roadway reconstruction. The contract duration for the entire project is 180 working days, with an anticipated completion by the end of November 2017.

Cost for the project, which is federally funded, is $3,980,409. For more information, contact the Department of Public Works, Engineering Division, at ph. (808) 270-7745.

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FY 2018 Council Budget Hearing Dates

Once again, the Maui County Council’s Budget and Finance Committee will hold evening meetings throughout Maui County in April to receive community input on the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

There are many priorities throughout the community, but limited resources.  Therefore, it is important for you to inform the Council on how tax dollars should be spent, as after all, it is your money.

The meetings are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. except for on Molokai which is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. All meetings are open to the public.

The Budget and Finance Committee at the Paia Community Center hearing from members of the public on the FY 2014 Budget.

District meetings are scheduled as follows:

  • Thursday, March 30, Kihei Community Center, Main Hall, 303 East Lipoa Street, Kihei, Maui – South Maui District.
  • Monday, April 3, Lanai Senior Center, 309 7th Street, Lanai City, Lanai – Lanai District
  • Wednesday, April 5, Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center, Social Hall, 91 Pukalani Street, Pukalani, Maui – Upcountry District (Pukalani-Kula-Ulupalakua).
  • Thursday, April 6, Paia Community Center, Social Hall, Hana Highway, Paia – Makawao-Haiku-Paia District.
  • Monday, April 10, at 6:30 p.m., Mitchell Pauole Center, Kaunakakai, Molokai – Molokai District.
  • Monday, April 13, Helene Hall, Social Hall, 150 Keawa Place, Hana, Maui – East Maui District (Hana-Keanae-Kailua).
  • Monday, April 17, Lahaina Civic Center, Social Hall, 1840 Honoapiilani Highway, Lahaina, Maui – West Maui District
  • Tuesday, April 18, Council Chamber, Council Public Hearing – 200 S. High Street, Wailuku – Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu District.

The agenda for the meetings will be officially published on the county website on March 24, the same day the council receives the mayor’s budget proposal. The committee will also conduct budget meetings in the Council Chamber in Wailuku on most days beginning March 30 through May 1.

The budget ordinance is the county’s financial plan for the fiscal year, which begins July 1. It determines how much money each department receives to carry out county services such as fire and police protection, public transportation, water supply and garbage collection, and how much is collected from the public through taxes and fees.

The budget also sets forth the amount of grant money offered to community organizations and establishes funding levels for capital improvements projects, such as road repaving, park improvements and water system upgrades.

For more information on meeting dates, you can visit www.mauicounty.us/2018budget.

As always, if you have any feedback on pending or future legislation, please don’t hesitate to contact me through e-mail at Mike.White@mauicounty.us or by phone at 270-5507.

With aloha,

Mike

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Abandoned Vehicles Prevention – Junk Vehicle Disposal Assistance Program

Abandoned Vehicles Prevention –Junk Vehicle Disposal Assistance Program
FAQ’s

The County of Maui Department of Environmental Management launches the Abandoned Vehicles Prevention –Junk Vehicle Disposal Assistance Program on March 1, 2017.

Residents will be able to dispose of one vehicle per year at no charge. Residents will be required to register their old vehicles as “Permanently Junked” and then deliver them
to the permitted metals recycling facility in Puunene. Participants will be asked to complete a short survey to help track the success of the program.

Vehicles must be eligible and owners will be required to present proper documents to participate in the program. Residents should refer to the website www.mauicounty.gov/avm to review eligibility criteria and instructions, and to download the proper forms.

This program is funded through the Highway Beautification and Abandoned Vehicles Fund, which is a portion of annual vehicle registration fees.

Frequently Asked Questions
www.mauicounty.gov/avm

Q: Where is the DMVL?
A: DMVL has a central office at the Maui Mall and several satellite locations. Check their website for more information: http://www.co.maui.hi.us/1328/Motor‐Vehicle‐Licensing

Q: Where is the metals recycling facility?
A: Hammerhead Metals Recycling is the sole permitted facility on the island of Maui and is located in the Central Maui Baseyard at 2000 Mokulele Hwy., Puunene, HI 96784. Check their website for more information: www.hammerheadrecycling.com

Q: My car is a commercial vehicle used for our business. Is it eligible?
A: NO, this program is for Maui County residents only.

Q: I only live here for part of the year, but my car is registered on Maui. Is it eligible?
A: YES, if your car is not used for business and is registered in Maui County.

Q: My car doesn’t run and has missing parts. Can I still participate in the program?
A: YES, after you register it as “Permanently Junked,” have it towed to the metals recycling facility. You must be present to submit all proper documentation.

Q: I don’t have the title anymore, but it was registered in my name. What should I do to participate?
A: You can get a duplicate certificate of title at the DMVL and then register it as “Permanently Junked.”

Q: I have the signed title, but it is not officially registered to me yet. Can I participate in this program?
A: You must first register the vehicle as “Permanently Junked” in your name with the DMVL.

Q: Will the County provide towing services?
A: No, owners are responsible to deliver their vehicles to Hammerhead themselves.

Q: Do I have to clean out my car before I take it to the metals recycling facility.
A: YES. Vehicles with “excessive waste” may be refused by the facility, at their discretion.

Q: How many tires are included in this program?
A: Up to 5 tires mounted on or within the vehicle will be accepted. More than that will be refused or you will be charged for them.

Q: Will I be charged anything at the metals recycling facility?
A: NO, if you meet all the eligibility criteria and you have all the proper documentation. If eligibility criteria are not met, or if you do not have all the proper documentation, you may be charged.

Q: What if my vehicle is refused at the facility? Can I just leave it behind?
A: NO. Vehicles abandoned at the site that will be tagged, ticketed, and charged as an abandoned vehicle, per usual procedures.

Q: What if I get to the facility and I don’t meet the criteria?
A: The facility may charge you to dispose of the vehicle or refuse it. If the vehicle is refused, you are responsible to remove it from the facility and put it back on private property.

Q: I live on Molokai. What am I supposed to do with my old car?
A: You should deliver your vehicle to the Molokai Metals Facility at the Molokai Landfill. They will receive your car at no charge during regular landfill hours. Call Refrigerant Recycling, Inc. for requirements and instructions at 888‐682‐1155.

Q: I live on Lanai. What am I supposed to do with my old car?
A: The County holds periodic collection events for a limited number of cars. Please contact the Office of Abandoned Vehicles and Metals for more information.

Q: Where can I get more information?
A: www.mauicounty.gov/avm

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Community support is critical in moving state bills

CHAIR’S 3 MINUTES
Published in The Maui News, February 26, 2017
By MIKE WHITE

In last Sunday’s column, I made a case for the counties to receive a greater share of the transient accommodations tax, also known as TAT or hotel room tax, to cover the increasing costs of services for environmental protection, police, fire, roads and parks maintenance.

I continue to urge Maui County residents to contact their state legislators to support both House Bill 317 and Senate Bill 1290, which would increase the counties’ share of the TAT. I also urge all to strongly oppose HB 1586, which would phase out and eliminate the counties’ share of the tax.

HB1586

Community support is critical at this juncture, as March 9 is an important legislative deadline for the first crossover. This is when a bill must pass final reading from its committee and move, or “cross over,” to the other chamber. Successful House bills are sent to the Senate and Senate bills are sent to the House for further consideration.

The majority of bills introduced at the start of the legislative session will not make it past this point and will not be considered any further.

Aside from TAT bills, other notable bills I continue to track include HB 1410, which originally proposed transferring the regulation of ambulance services from the state Department of Health to the counties and allocate a portion of the TAT for ambulance regulation and operation.

This measure has since been turned into a pilot program, but the concept of using TAT funds instead of the state fully funding ambulance services is still being proposed. The current structure and relationship between the county and state with Emergency Medical Services has worked well and should not be altered. This is why I urge our legislators to defer HB 1410.

Another bill I’m monitoring is HB 1359, which would allow each county to enact and enforce ordinances to prevent, investigate, control or eradicate invasive species on any public or private premises.

Currently, the county works closely with the Maui Invasive Species Committee in the fight against invasive threats to native plants and the fragile ecosystem. At times, MISC is hampered by its inability to access private property where invasive species are reported. Providing this access, following necessary notice requirements, will help avoid costly and time-consuming processes, such as securing warrants through the courts to gain property access.

This tool is critical for counties to be true partners in the fight against invasive species and to fulfill the broader goal of preserving the environment for future generations. I urge support for HB 1359.

I encourage you to continue monitoring what is taking place at the state Legislature. Go to mauicounty.us/2017stateleg for copies of testimony I’ve submitted and you can easily track state bills at capitol.hawaii.gov.

In other news, the process of reviewing the Molokai Community Plan has begun. The Planning Committee, chaired by County Council Member Kelly King, is working on a timeline to gather community input and has proposed the review to be completed by the end of 2017.

The Molokai Community Plan is the second of nine plans the council needs to review.

Public input is critical at these community plan meetings and is encouraged.

For more information on council and committee meetings, visit mauicounty.us.

* Mike White is chair of the Maui County Council. He 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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State wants to keep TAT at expense of counties

Chair’s 3 Minutes
Published in The Maui News, Feb. 19, 2017
By Mike White

On Tuesday, the state House Committee on Tourism advanced House Bill 1586, which phases out the counties’ share of the transient accommodations tax, also known as the TAT or hotel tax. County officials were present and expressed strong opposition to the measure, yet the state still wants to consider keeping all of the TAT. This measure would help the state balance its budget, of course, but at an enormous cost to county taxpayers.

In short, the state’s plan is unfair and unacceptable.

Every hotel or lodging transaction includes a 9.25 percent hotel tax surcharge collected by the state to compensate for a visitor’s use of state and county services. Counties are particularly impacted because they provide important services upon which visitors most depend. These include environmental protection; police, fire and ocean safety; development and upkeep of most roads; and parks maintenance.

Without a fair share of TAT, the burden of providing county services to visitors would increasingly be transferred to our local residents, even though visitors have already been taxed. This is already happening. From 2007 to 2015, counties have incurred over $170 million in cost increases in services for fire, police and parks, but have only seen an additional $2.2 million from TAT revenues. This is while the state took an increased portion of $196.6 million.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority projects an annual increase in the visitor population with more TAT monies raised each year. Additional visitors would mean an increased demand for county services, resulting in higher operational costs.

Front Street Lahaina

A more rational approach would be to increase the distribution of TAT funds using a percentage-based formula. But instead, the Legislature last year continued the cap on the counties’ share at $103 million. And now it wants to eliminate the counties’ share altogether.

The total TAT collected in 2010 was $244 million. In 2015, it grew to $435 million. Even if another million visitors arrive in Hawaii, the counties will still receive a fixed amount for reimbursements — unless the Legislature takes action to give the counties a more equitable share.

Maui County generates approximately $130 million in TAT revenue, but under the state’s current cap we receive only $23.5 million in return. If this amount is further reduced, the county will face major budgetary shortfalls. The county will likely have to raise real property tax or reduce services. This could range from reducing lifeguards at public beaches, cutbacks to youth and senior programs, or other programs our residents depend upon. Neither are attractive options, but there is a better way.

At the same hearing on Tuesday, the committee passed House Bill 317, which is included in the Hawaii State Association of Counties package. The bill would remove the arbitrarily placed cap and implement a 55-45 percent split of the remaining TAT revenue, after specific appropriations, between the state and counties.

That measure is supported by a comprehensive study on the history and purpose of the TAT by a working group created by the Legislature in 2015. The report found that counties are responsible for 54 percent of net expenditures directly supporting tourism, while the state provides 46 percent.

The working group has made its recommendation, yet some legislators chose to ignore the report they asked for.

This measure also follows past practices. The counties previously received 45 percent of TAT revenues until the state reallocated the fund to help balance its budget during the economic downturn in 2009.

I urge the community to be educated and more vigilant this session — our hard-earned dollars are on the line. The counties indeed deserve more.

We will continue to closely monitor bills in the state Legislature and hope you can help urge our state legislators to return an equitable share of the TAT to the counties. It is not fair for you to be paying for visitors’ expenses after they have already paid their fair share.

Go to mauicounty.us/2017stateleg for copies of testimony submitted.

* Mike White is chair of the Maui County Council. He 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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Nā Hua Hoʻohuli i ka Pono Conservation Leadership Program

Interested applicants are encouraged to apply!

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The Nā Hua Hoʻohuli i ka Pono Conservation Leadership Program (NHHP) was created in 2016 and is funded by Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation, a private Honolulu-based grant making organization. The program will work in partnership with Maui conservation agencies and Kupu, an established non-profit organization that works statewide to link youth with conservation organizations to gain year-round hands-on experience.

Interns will gain a broad understanding of conservation work on Maui, working alongside field experts. This program will develop the future leaders we need and ensure that they not only have the technical skills to tackle conservation challenges, but that they are equally competent in navigating complex social, cultural, and political arenas that are critical to natural resources protection.

NHHP partnered with the Maui Invasive Species Committee, The Nature Conservancy, and Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project to create three summer positions from June 05- July 28, 2017.

COMPENSATION
Interns will earn a bi-weekly living allowance of $800.00 and are eligible for an AmeriCorps Education Award up to $1,222.00 to use toward higher education expenses. All compensation is subject to State and Federal taxes.

Now accepting applications for Summer 2017!

Click here for more information and to apply

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Hawaii State Association of Counties Lobby for greater share of TAT

Chair White on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, joined the Hawaii State Association of Counties in lobbying the Hawaii State Legislature for a greater share of the Transient Accommodations Tax.

Chair White speaking with the media on the issue:

Read more about the TAT issue in past posts.  One entitled “TAT is better source revenue than GET” and “Counties Keep a Close Watch on TAT Amount”.

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Misinformation being spread on council organization

By: Mike White

There is a tremendous amount of misinformation being spread through the media and social media, about the Council’s organization for the new 2017-2019 term, while also questioning the character and integrity of myself, Councilmember Crivello, Carroll, and Hokama.

Since these unfounded attacks continue to escalate, it is time to set the record straight.

Shortly after the election, Councilmember Robert Carroll informed me that he had been approached by Councilmember Elle Cochran offering him the chairmanship of the Council with the support of the other members supported by the Ohana Coalition. The Ohana Coalition opposed many of the sitting council members in the most recent election.

In a subsequent discussion with Mr. Carroll, Ms. Cochran suggested that if he joined their majority he would have to discuss with Councilmember Don Guzman as to which one of them would be chair.

At about the same time, an Ohana Coalition supported member told me that a call was received from Ms. Cochran’s staff asking for support of Councilmember Cochran for council chair. Cochran’s staff also put out a Facebook post asking the community to call Councilmember Carroll as he was the “swing vote”.

In the end, Councilmember Carroll chose not to support Cochran’s and Guzman’s group.

Through these actions, it was clear that Councilmembers Guzman and Cochran were trying to gather a new majority for the next Council term, but did not have the support of at least five of the councilmembers-elect. The irony is that they were using the same tactics that they now claim to be illegal. The only difference is that they came up short of the five necessary members.

If Councilmember Cochran and Guzman had succeeded in forming a majority, would the Huffington Post have written an article critical of their actions? Would Mark Sheehan of the Ohana Coalition, have filed an ethics complaint against Cochran and Guzman? Would Cochran’s staff have followed through with a post chastising their actions on MauiWatch? Would the editor of MauiWatch, who also is the campaign manager of Don Guzman, question the organization of the Council? On all four counts, I think not.

My point is that the Ohana Coalition members were doing the same organizing activities at the very same time so there is no reason for any members to be called out.

Neither they nor I have done anything illegal, unethical or out of the ordinary for the process of informally organizing the council prior to the formal vote that takes place on January 2nd.

I have proven myself to be a fair and trustworthy leader. I respect that all council members were voted in by the people of Maui and my actions to assign all members to be a committee chair is a reflection of that notion. In fact, most members are receiving what they requested.

There is much to be done in this upcoming term, such as continuing to address affordable housing, homelessness, the Upcountry water meter list, and the Molokai Community Plan, just to name a few.

Yet, instead of focusing on these important policy items, there are those in the community who continue to take politically motivated jabs against the Council’s internal organization process.

As I have pointed out in the media, the ethics complaint is baseless and no ethics or Sunshine Laws were violated. In fact, the Office of Information Practices, in Opinion Letter 02-11, confirmed that incoming council members aren’t subject to the state Sunshine Law until taking office.

The Maui County Department of the Corporation Counsel has also opined that no council members are subject to the Sunshine Law for matters relating to the next council term prior to the term’s start and no other laws were violated.

Based on past advice, council members who will take office in January can organize before being sworn in to start the internal planning process.

Announcing leadership positions prior to a term is nothing new. Indeed, it is a common practice among legislative bodies in Hawaii. The Hawaii State Legislature, Hawaii County Council and Honolulu City Council announced their leadership team earlier this month, before their new term.

Incoming Council Chair Gladys C. Baisa announced her leadership team on Nov. 10, 2012, four days after the general election (“Council leadership set; aim to get more done,” The Maui News, Nov. 11, 2012 ). The current term’s organizational announcement was also released Nov. 10, 2014 (“Council to form additional panel,” The Maui News, Nov. 18, 2014).

As the sitting Chair, it is my role to post recommendations for the January 2 organizational meeting.

All this noise sounds like politics as usual from councilmembers-elect and their supporters who cannot get their way.

They are the ones displaying vindictive behavior by lashing out with nasty personal attacks on Councilmembers not in their coalition, riling the public with misinformation, filing ethics complaints, and challenging their fellow members authority. Instead of sticking to facts, they have made it personal.

At the end of the day, all members must work together to do the best for the people of Maui County.

Maui County is being overrun with mainland-style politics that must stop. Making personal attacks and bullying to get your way is not pono. Threats and intimidation are not the Maui way. Unfortunately, it is not likely to end here, as certain members seek higher office.

This abusive rhetoric must stop.  Let’s get to work tackling the many pressing issues facing our community.

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Senate President Kouchi to keynote council inauguration Jan. 2

For immediate release: Dec. 27, 2016

Press release by:
Mike White, Chair
Maui County Council

Senate President Kouchi to keynote council inauguration Jan. 2

WAILUKU, Hawaii – Senate President Ronald Kouchi will deliver the keynote address at the Maui County Council inauguration on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 at 10 a.m. in the Council Chamber, Council Chair Mike White announced today.

Senate President Kouchi

Kouchi served 11 terms, or 22 years, on the Kauai County Council, where he was chair for 12 years, before becoming a state senator in 2010. His senate colleagues elected him senate president in May 2015.

“While Jan. 2 is recognized as a state holiday, we are mandated by the Maui County Charter to hold our ceremony on this day,” White said. “Senate President Kouchi is a strong advocate of the counties, and I thank him and other officials for attending the inauguration as we look forward to the new council term.”

Judge Richard T. Bissen will officiate at the swearing-in ceremony, inaugurating the members for the 2017-2019 council:

  • Mike White
  • Robert Carroll
  • Stacy Crivello
  • Alika Atay
  • Elle Cochran
  • Don S. Guzman
  • Riki Hokama
  • Kelly T. King
  • Yuki Lei Sugimura

Inauguration

Deidre Tegarden, the state’s former chief protocol officer, will serve as mistress of ceremonies, renowned Hawaiian language teacher Kahu Ekela Kaniaupio-Crozier will perform an oli and pule, and Baldwin High School student Kassie Inouye will perform the National Anthem and Hawaii Pono`i, while the Hawaii Air National Guard presents the colors.

Musical group Na Wai `Eha will provide entertainment.

At 2 p.m. the council will hold its organizational meeting for the new term. At the meeting, the council will elect officers, establish standing committees, adopt rules and appoint staff.

White said the inauguration ceremony and the council meeting are open to the public, with limited seating. Both events will be shown live on Akaku Channel 53 and on MauiCounty.us.

For the latest news, follow @mauicounty on Twitter.

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More details: http://mauicounty.us/inauguration2017/

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Now isn’t time for county officials to receive a raise

CHAIR’S 3 MINUTES
Published in The Maui News, December 18, 2016
By MIKE WHITE

I was at the final harvest of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. last Monday, a day that marked the end of Maui’s 145-year sugar cane era and the loss of good jobs for hundreds of our friends, neighbors and family members.

Hawaii Sugar Commercial

This somber occasion, which followed the closing of Makena Resort, the Molokai ferry and many small businesses earlier in the year, starkly illustrated how callous it was for the Maui County Salary Commission to approve a 12 percent raise for county’s mayor and department heads (“12 percent raise for county officials approved,” The Maui News, Dec. 10). Our public resources are too precious — and our economic conditions too tenuous — to justify directing more taxpayer money to those already at the top of the county’s pay scale.

In testimony to the Salary Commission on Oct. 5, I explained that it is not appropriate for any salary increases at this time for executive level positions.

I further commented that the county does not have any problems recruiting or retaining executives. While our outlook may look positive, economists suggest that a downturn can occur as soon as 2018.

Because this point of view was disregarded by the Salary Commission, the county now must reprogram close to $460,000 in the current year’s budget to fulfill these new pay increases. The annual salary obligation for just the mayor, his department heads and their deputy directors will total more than $4 million.

Department directors and deputies are getting an additional salary boost just three years after receiving a 15 percent increase. Their average salary jumped from $103,000 to $116,000 in 2013, and with the new award, will rise to $130,000, realizing an average increase of approximately $27,000 within just a few years.

These increases are much higher than statewide figures. According to data from a Hawaii Employers Council salary adjustment survey, increases in County of Maui executive pay is 62 percent higher than the average increase of public and private sector executives from 2009-16.

Council members will now need to question how we are going to pay for these increases, which have a retroactive effective date of July 1, 2016. One possible means is to not fund deputy director positions that aren’t mandated by the charter. An example is the deputy managing director position, which will soon become vacant.

In addition, the Employees’ Retirement System recently shared that the county must contribute $11 million more annually for employee retirement obligations because of increased number of employees and pay raises.

Although the Salary Commission is an independent body, the members must consider the community’s concerns. The body should be more reasonable and develop a gradual pay plan, instead of approving such large increases that are hard to justify to the taxpayers who have to pick up the tab.

The commission should consider following the example of the state government, which developed a six-year pay plan for executive-level positions. The state has awarded more practical 2 percent annual raises for agency heads and other executives, effective each July 1 from 2013 to 2018.

The state Commission on Salaries issued a well-documented, 257-page report, dated March 18, 2013, which is available online. The report noted the importance of “being prudent in the expenditure of public funds” and, therefore, concluded a 2 percent annual increase was appropriate even though revenues were projected to rise at a higher rate.

The issue of Maui County council member salaries has been deferred until March. In my testimony to the Salary Commission, I also requested no increase for myself and my colleagues.

I hope that my testimony will be heeded. Now is not the time for county officials to receive raises.

Mahalo.

* Mike White is chair of the Maui County Council. He 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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