Fall 2016 Community Update

CLICK HERE to read the Fall 2016 Community Update.

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Old Maui High School

County extends discussion on lease of Old Maui High School to Teach Development LLC

CLICK HERE to READ FULL PROPOSAL

The Maui County Council at its Friday, September 16 meeting, decided more time was needed for discussion and sent a 60 year lease agreement with Teach Development LLC for the Old Maui High School property back to the Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture and Recreation (EAR) Committee.  The Friends of Old Maui High School informed the County that they can no longer care for the property because the cost of infrastructure and other necessary improvements are too high.  Through a request for proposal, the County received three proposals, with the mayor recommending Teach Development LLC based on the organization’s qualifications, including financial backing and relevant expertise.  They will use the property as a facility for innovative social, economic, and environmental benefit to Maui.

The tentative plan is to repurpose and build facilities that total approximately 200,000 square feet.  The planned facilities include a community cultural gathering place; a conference center; a retreat and campus housing; an educational center providing applied training for green jobs, tech jobs, and regenerative work; a co-working space; and incubation laboratory for businesses.

Studies, reports, community engagement, and planning still need to be done.  The organization can unilaterally terminate the lease within the first six months if the condition of the property does not meet its criteria for development.  Representatives from the organization also stated that the project is expected to be fully operational in five years.  They intend to invest $56 million in improvements, using self-financing and private equity and will not seek County funding.

Community members felt that more discussion on the matter was warranted and will take place in the EAR Committee. For more information on the proposal, CLICK HERE – the public can also send comments on this proposal or thoughts on what you believe should be done at the Old Maui High School site to EAR.Committee@MauiCounty.us referencing EAR-63.

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No countywide retroactive property-tax assessments being done

Press Release by:
Council Chair Mike White
Maui County Council

No countywide retroactive property-tax assessments being done

CLICK HERE for a more detailed statement by the Maui County Department of Corporation Counsel on the reassessments of two timeshare associations.

WAILUKU, Hawaii – The Maui County Council has become aware of a Facebook ad and automated phone calls that misinform residents about “retroactive tax assessments on property owners.”

Retroactive assessments are not being done for property owners countywide, Council Chair Mike White said today.

The assessment is only for two timeshare associations and is being done at their attorneys’ request.

The assessments are being done by the Department of Finance, not the council. No other timeshare units or tax categories are impacted.

# # #

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Statement on the passing of Congressman Mark Takai

Council Chair Mike White made the following statement on the passing of Congressman Mark Takai:

“I am saddened to hear of Congressman Mark Takai’s passing. We served together in the State Legislature and I met with him earlier this year in Washington D.C. to discuss issues impacting Hawaii’s counties.  Despite representing Congressional District 1, he still wanted to hear how he could help Maui County. He always wanted to better our state, and find ways to better our lives. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Takai ‘ohana. I join my Maui County Council colleagues in bidding him a fond aloha.”

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2016 Summer Update

CLICK HERE to check out my 2016 Summer Update!

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Council-Manager Form of Government on PIA Agenda

What is happening on Monday, June 27?
On Monday, June 27, the Council’s Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Councilmember Michael Victorino will meet to discuss a variety of proposed charter amendments, including PIA-10(16), which proposes to change the structure of government to a council-manager form of government.  CLICK HERE to see the agenda.

What is the County Charter?
The County Charter is the governing document for the County of Maui. It is similar to the United States Constitution and may be only amended by a vote of the electorate. The Maui County Code is a set of laws set-forth by the County Council to carry-out the Charter.

What is a council-manager form of government?
The Maui County Council would hire a professional managing director through a set-forth process that must follow sunshine law guidelines. This professional manager would in-turn be the point person in hiring all department directors based on professional qualifications and merits.

Who proposed this measure?
At the request of many community members, Council Chair White established a Special Governance Committee to look at ways to improve and enhance our County’s governance structure. After months of deliberations, the Committee recommended that “A Managing Director, appointed by the County Council, shall be responsible for the County’s daily operations, the appointment and removal of department heads, and the implementation of County policy; and an elected Mayor shall be responsible for representing the County in intergovernmental affairs, with the authority to approve or veto bills, and nominate board and commission members.” READ THE COMMITTEE REPORT.

What Now?
The members of the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee must now decide whether to move this matter forward and put it on the ballot for voters to decide. In order for it to go onto the ballot, two-thirds or 6 members of the council must concur to place it on the ballot.

What type of system do we have now?
Currently, the County of Maui has a “strong-mayor” type of government. The mayor appoints all department directors and deputies and oversees the day to day operations of the county. The council only must confirm the mayor’s department directors for water supply, corporation counsel, and prosecuting attorney. The mayor also appoints with the council’s approval, all boards and commissions.

What resources can I refer to learn more?
You can read a recent Cost of Government Commission Report on the issue or go to the website of the organization promoting a Council-Manager form of governance, www.forthegoodofmaui.org.

How can I voice my opinion?
Send an e-mail to PIA.Committee@mauicounty.us or testify in person at 9 a.m. on Monday, June 27 in the Council Chamber.

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FY 2017 Budget Highlights

I am pleased to report, after meeting nearly every day for a month, the Maui County Council’s Budget and Finance Committee passed a $659.5 million fiscal year 2017 budget, which was signed into law by the mayor. It will take effect on July 1, 2016.

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The figure is $51.9 million lower than the $711.4 million budget presented by the mayor in March.

This year, balancing the budget was notably challenging, since the mayor anticipated receiving an additional $13.4 million in transient accommodations tax revenue, which did not materialize. The counties will have to do a better job in showing the State Legislature that it is simply unfair to have residents pay the cost of visitor-related expenses, when visitors are already paying their share through the TAT.

The Budget and Finance Committee, chaired by Councilmember Riki Hokama, held evening hearings in every district and heard from hundreds of people through survey responses along with written and oral testimony.

The committee and council listened and made notable changes, including modifying real property tax rates. Property values have increased by 9.3 percent over last year. As our economic future remains uncertain, due to the closure of large employers, adjustments were made to the following categories:
– Homeowner decreasing from $2.75 to $2.70
– Residential decreasing from $5.40 to $5.30
– Industrial decreasing from $6.85 to $6.69
– Agriculture decreasing from $5.75 to $5.66
– Conservation decreasing from $5.90 to $5.80
– Hotel/Resort decreasing from $8.85 to $8.71
– Timeshare decreasing from $14.55 to $14.31
– Apartment, Commercial and Commercial Residential will remain the same.

The budget also includes many significant investments.

Through my proposal, the committee increased the open space fund’s appropriation from $3 million to $9.5 million for the acquisition of land at Kuiaha, Hamakualoa.

This funding will help the county acquire 267 acres on Maui’s North Shore, near the Peahi, or “Jaws,” big-wave surf spot. I would like to thank the committee for its support and the collaborative effort with Council Vice-Chair Don Guzman.

Other highlights include:
– $400,000 for restoration of Mokuula and Mokuhinia in Lahaina
– $500,000 for Lahaina Harbor Front Improvement Project, Phase 2a
– $120,000 for Hui o Wa‘a Kaulua educational program
– $790,000 for agricultural programs
– $2.23 million for economic development initiatives and programs
– $1.4 million for environmental protection grants
– $300,000 for the continuation of the Coqui Frog Eradication Project
– $71,960 for 2 positions in the Department of Housing and Human Concerns to deal with homelessness
– 2 percent increase for most non-profit agencies administered by the Department of Housing and Human Concerns
– $27.5 million for wastewater system upgrades and projects
– $8.3 million for solid waste upgrades
– $650,000 for the design for continued construction of South Maui Community Park
– $1.2 million for the Upcountry Skate Park at Pukalani Park
– $75,000 for design for improvements at Waiakoa Gym
– $500,000 for design of a new restaurant, pro shop and starter booth at Waiehu Golf Course
– $1 million for the Waikapu Community Center expansion and repair of basketball courts
– $50,000 for Wailuku Pool improvements
– $3.3 million for the Wailuku Redvelopment Municipal Parking Lot Expansion
– $390,000 for land acquisition for a new Kaunakakai Police Station
– $9.2 million for Kokomo Road and Makawao Avenue Pavement Reconstruction, Phase 2
– $1.2 million for Wakea Avenue and Kamehameha Avenue Intersection Improvements
– $7.3 million for Pavement Rehabilitation in South Maui
– $2.1 million for Piilani Highway Road Improvements at Nuanualoa
– $5.6 million for Countywide Road Resurfacing and Pavement Preservation
– $500,000 for Bus Stops and Shelters
– $22.7 million for water project and water system upgrades.

Click here to read the full Budget and Finance Committee Report.

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Tough decision-making paves the way for balanced budget

Published in The Maui News, May 29, 2016
By MIKE WHITE, for The Maui News

In a meeting on Friday at 9 a.m., the County Council will have a chance to pass the County of Maui’s budget on second and final reading.

Barring a veto by Mayor Alan Arakawa, this will mark the conclusion of deliberations on the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Contrary to the statement made by the administration that the council has been looking for areas to “cut out” (“Our County,” May 6), the council’s $659.5 million proposed budget is actually $38.8 million more than the current year’s budget.

The administration has a typical “government mentality” when it considers a “cut” to be a reduction to the increase over the current year’s budget. The reality is that practically every department is receiving more funding than the current fiscal year.

The council decided it could not fund all of the mayor’s proposals because of the burden it would place on residents. Property values have increased on average by 8.4 percent, and the council felt it was necessary to provide relief to those most impacted.

Fiscal responsibility has been a top priority, along with making strategic and targeted investments. Balancing between asking residents to pay more and maintaining county services is always tough, but necessary.

I am disappointed the administration implies the budget process is a waste of time, contending “the cuts the council makes to the budget eventually go back into the budget.”

In the example the administration used, fiscal year 2015, the mayor proposed a budget of $622.6 million. The council reduced the mayor’s request by $19 million and adopted a $603.6 million budget.

Throughout that fiscal year, the administration requested amendments totaling over $23 million that the council approved. Yet, $18.7 million was for entirely new initiatives that were not included in the mayor’s proposed budget or six-year capital plan.

This included $8.7 million for the acquisition and design of the county’s service center located at the Maui Business Park Phase II; $2.9 million was for road rehabilitation projects for Old Haleakala Highway/Makani Road and Wailea Alanui Drive/Wailea Ike Drive; $6.2 million to make up for a shortfall in debt service payments due to a change in the payment schedule; $820,000 was for a reappropriation of lapsed funds for Kaupakalua Playground, a fencing project at Mokuhinia, and a miscalculation in employee fringe benefits.

These projects all support the community, but none of them were cut from the budget and then put “back into the budget.”

It is unfair to discredit the council’s hard work in protecting taxpayer money.

Work on issues initiated in the budget session will continue, even after the passage of the budget. The council has asked its standing committees to address unresolved issues stemming from the fiscal year 2017 budget discussions.

Pursuant to Committee Report 16-84, the council referred 23 matters to various committees. For example, the council has directed the Budget and Finance Committee to consider establishing separate real property tax rates for land and buildings and to review policies on leasing versus purchasing equipment.

The council requested the Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture and Recreation Committee to evaluate the creation of an enterprise fund for the Department of Parks and Recreation. It is also assigned the task to review the establishment of a county Office of Agriculture along with fees for public charging stations for electric vehicles.

The council asked the Housing, Human Services and Transportation Committee to consider requiring licenses for pets other than dogs (which are already required to be licensed). The committee is also set to study a variety of housing issues, including funding mechanisms for affordable housing.

The Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee received referrals from the council relating to the Imi Kala extension project, policies regarding residential refuse collection and the effectiveness of the Highway Beautification and Disposal of Abandoned Vehicles Revolving Fund. The long-term feasibility of the so-called 3-Can Plan recycling program was also referred to the committee.

Mahalo.

* Mike White is chairman 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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Fukuyama City Celebrates Centennial

At the Friday, May 20, 2016 Council Meeting, Councilmember Michael Victorino presented gifts to the Maui County Council that he received from Sister-City, Fukuyama City, Hiroshima, Japan.

He represented the Maui County Council at their 49th Annual Rose Festival and their 100th Anniversary as a city.

Maui County and Fukuyama City have enjoyed a sister-city relationship since 2008.

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Council panel passes fiscal ’17 budget

Published in The Maui News, May 8, 2016
By MIKE WHITE, for The Maui News

I am pleased to report, after meeting nearly every day for a month, the Maui County Council’s Budget and Finance Committee on Monday passed a $659.5 million fiscal year 2017 budget.

The figure is $51.9 million lower than the $711.4 million budget presented by the mayor in March.

This year, balancing the budget was notably challenging, since the mayor anticipated receiving an additional $13.4 million in transient accommodations tax revenue, which did not materialize. The counties will have to do a better job in showing the state Legislature that it is simply unfair to have residents pay for the cost of visitor-related expenses, when visitors are already paying their share through the TAT.

The Budget and Finance Committee, chaired by Council Member Riki Hokama, held evening hearings in every district and heard from hundreds of people through survey responses along with written and oral testimony.

Riki Hokama

The committee listened and made notable changes, including modifying real property tax rates. Property values have increased by 9.3 percent over last year. As our economic future remains uncertain due to the closure of large employers, adjustments were made to the following categories: homeowner, decreasing from $2.75 to $2.70; residential, decreasing from $5.40 to $5.30; industrial, decreasing from $6.85 to $6.69; agriculture, decreasing from $5.75 to $5.66; conservation, decreasing from $5.90 to $5.80; hotel/resort, decreasing from $8.85 to $8.71; and time share, decreasing from $14.55 to $14.31. apartment, commercial and commercial residential will remain the same.

The budget also included many significant investments.

Through my proposal, the committee increased the open space fund’s appropriation from $3 million to $9.5 million for the acquisition of land at Kuiaha, Hamakualoa.

This funding will help the county acquire 267 acres on Maui’s north shore, near the Peahi, or “Jaws,” big-wave surf spot. I would like to thank the committee for its support and the collaborative effort with Council Vice-Chairman Don Guzman.

Proposed open space acquisition

Enhancing recreational and social opportunities for local families is another theme for the budget. Through another collaborative effort, Council Member Gladys Baisa and I developed a creative funding mechanism to fully fund $1.2 million for the Upcountry skate park, adjacent to the Pukalani Pool. We heard from many in the community on the importance of this project.

Infrastructure appropriations include $6.1 million for maintenance and road resurfacing, $20.7 million for rehabilitation and road reconfiguration projects, $5 million for the Molokai baseyard and $3.4 million continued funding for the multilevel Wailuku municipal parking lot.

To address homelessness, two positions were granted to the Department of Housing and Human Concerns to focus solely on identifying homelessness solutions. I look forward to seeing tangible results.

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To facilitate affordable housing, $2 million was proposed for a Lanai affordable housing project, $2.5 million for Hale Mahaolu Ewalu project in Pukalani and $1 million for affordable rental housing programs.

A 3 percent increase was also granted to most nonprofit organizations dealing with human services, such as Women Helping Women and Mental Health Kokua.

An appropriation of $300,000 was included for the continued eradication of coqui frogs in Haiku, which will bring the county’s total two-year investment to $1.5 million in a good-faith effort to stop invasive species.

The budget process is never easy, but it is one of the most important roles the council has every year. Whether you realize it or not, everyone is impacted by this document. Your feedback is always welcome and very much appreciated.

The council is scheduled to consider the budget on first reading on May 20, with second and final reading on June 3. The budget will take effect on July 1.

Mahalo. And Happy Mother’s Day!

* Mike White is chairman 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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