Published in The Maui News, May 31, 2015
By MIKE WHITE, for The Maui News
The Maui County Council will consider its $621 million fiscal year 2016 proposed budget for second and final reading on Friday at 9 a.m. in the Council Chambers. The council’s deadline to approve the proposed budget is June 10.
Testifiers at last Tuesday’s public hearing urged the council members not to increase bus fares, to restore the 3 Can Plan in Kihei and reconsider the increases proposed to Commercial Ocean Recreational Activity or CORA-related fees.
Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Riki Hokama’s proposal to maintain the bus rates at its current levels was accepted by council members. In a news release, he noted a study, the Short Range Transit Plan, is expected to be completed at the end of the year that will help the council make prudent decisions on bus rates.
I appreciate Council Member Don Couch’s initiative to survey Kihei residents about the 3 Can Plan with a “yes” or “no” response. The deadline to respond is Monday.
The council lowered the CORA fees per park per activity from $3,000 to $1,000 for the first two permits and $500 for additional permits.
The council also passed Bill 28 (2015) on first reading, appropriating grants from the Economic Development Revolving Fund to four local businesses.
Recipients include $200,000 to Uptown Service Inc. in Wailuku to renovate and convert its existing car wash facility to a full-service and takeout restaurant called “Da Car Wash Cafe,” $175,000 to Maui Innovation Group for the development of a medical care management software, $250,000 to HNu Photonics to purchase equipment for stem cell research and $250,000 to Aumakua Holdings Inc. to purchase equipment for Maui Brewing Co.
These businesses will be required to provide matching funds and must demonstrate specific progress before the installment funds are released. I look forward to these projects coming to fruition, revitalizing the economy and creating jobs.
Also up for second and final reading is Bill 29 (2015), appropriating $105,000 to help maintain Molokai ferry operations.
The council also referred several items to its standing committees, which include recommendations from the Lanai, Maui and Molokai planning commissions on the creation of agricultural conservation lots, a discussion on the county’s use of purchasing cards, or “pCards,” and a pesticide study on soil, water and air.
In other news, I am pleased to announce that our communication efforts in the council received two recognitions from the National Association of County Information Officers’ Awards of Excellence.
We received a excellence award for our 2015 Maui County Council calendar brochure and a meritorious award for our online news site 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.