Published in The Maui News, January 3, 2016
By MIKE WHITE, for The Maui News
The Maui County Council this week will consider several bills to improve Maui County’s physical infrastructure and, consequently, promote economic development.
Bills 89 and 90 (2015) would approve more than $3 million in funding for the Central Maui sewer system and will be considered by the council on second and final reading on Friday at 9 a.m. This funding would allow for use of advanced technology in a new water filtration system, eliminating the need for chlorine treatment and the cost of sand needed to operate the existing system.
On Thursday at 1:30 p.m., the council’s Housing, Human Services and Transportation Committee will receive a presentation on the proposed Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Wailuku-Kahului-Paia region of Maui now has more than 50,000 residents and, therefore, qualifies as a “metropolitan” area.
MPO status would give the county the ability to access more transportation funding from the federal government and to have a formal role and voice in the State of Hawaii’s transportation planning. This would ensure not only that more money is available for transportation infrastructure, but also that highway and transit projects are designed according to local residents’ needs and preferences.
To establish the Maui MPO, a new chapter in the Maui County Code and an intergovernmental agreement with the state must be approved by ordinance. The bills to approve the ordinances are expected to be voted on at a later committee meeting.
Monday at 9 a.m., the Budget and Finance Committee will consider budget amendments to provide $1.4 million for the Old Haleakala Highway reconstruction project in Upcountry Maui and $500,000 for Keanae Road safety improvements in East Maui. The committee also will consider an audit of the county’s roadway resurfacing, improvement and maintenance practices.
The Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee Monday at 1:30 p.m. will continue its review of the county’s practices relating to purchase orders and purchasing cards, or pCards. In addition, the committee will consider the appointment of Wiliama Akutagawa to the Molokai Planning Commission and a bill requiring council approval of all intergovernmental agreements.
On Wednesday at 9 a.m., the Water Resources Committee will conduct its second meeting on the repeal or revision of Chapter 14.12 of the Maui County Code, the county’s water availability policy. On Thursday at 9 a.m., the Planning Committee will continue review of the Lanai Community Plan, which has been the subject of periodic committee meetings dating back to last January.
Friday’s council meeting will also include consideration of a resolution I have introduced to urge the state Legislature to provide the counties with a fair share of revenue from the transient accommodations tax. The TAT imposes a 9.25 percent tax on every hotel room night in Hawaii.
Since 2007, the state’s share of the TAT has increased by $196 million, while all the counties combined have had their share increase by a mere $2.2 million. During the same time, the increases in costs for counties in the areas of fire, police and parks amounted to over $170 million.
The resolution makes the case that the counties are entitled to a larger share of the TAT, especially because the tax was intended to benefit both counties and the state.
Please see mauicounty.us for a complete list of meeting agendas, links to bills and other resource documents and live and archived video recordings.
* Mike White is chairman of the Maui County Council and vice chairman of the council’s Budget and Finance Committee. 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.