E alu like mai kākou: Let’s work together!
By Shane M. Sinenci
Mayor Bissen presented his fiscal year 2024 proposed budget to the Maui County Council on March 24, and we are now tasked with revising and approving it. Public input is an integral part of our review process, and I appreciate the people who have taken the time to share their manaʻo with us.
After three years of online budget meetings, we have returned to evening community meetings. I value hearing from people throughout all parts of our county about their specific needs, as well as common community needs.
Residents throughout our county have expressed support for youth programs to create brighter futures, social services to address poverty and houselessness and the need for better county park conditions to promote quality of life.
During our community meetings, Maui Economic Opportunity transportation services and youth related programs, including Head Start have received widespread support. The Maui Economic Development Board has been lauded for their programs, including youth STEM programs and robotics education, empowering our youth and providing pathways to success.
On Molokai, residents spoke about the need for a Boys and Girls Club of their own. Programs provided by MEO, MEDB and the Boys and Girls Clubs have lifelong positive impacts for their participants and lift up our entire community. We must ensure that programs like these receive adequate funding today if we are to create a better tomorrow.
Programs that provide services to our most vulnerable populations and those who suffer from houselessness are also widely supported. Testifiers also say they want programs that address neighborhood safety and cleanliness, including in Pā‘ia Town.
We have heard loud and clear the need for improved park conditions. The county has $78 million in carryover savings from the current fiscal year’s budget, showing that there is more that could have been done to provide maintenance to county facilities during the pandemic. With an end to pandemic behavior, park usage has hit an all-time high, making poor facility conditions a frustrating reality for our community members.
As chair of the new Water Authority, Social Services and Parks Committee, I am working with the Department of Housing and Human Concerns on targeted social programs and the Department of Parks and Recreation on facility improvements and maintenance.
Park maintenance is now governed by Ordinance 5242, which prohibits the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers on county-owned land—including areas surrounding park playgrounds and on playing fields. I introduced this ordinance to provide safe, healthy parks and roadways for the people who use them and for the workers who maintain them.
By eliminating the use of harmful toxins, we are acting as responsible stewards for our keiki, our kūpuna, our employees and the environment.
My committee also focuses on social programs that provide a safety net for the less fortunate. In our most recent committee meeting, we heard about the work of Project Vision Hawaiʻi, which provides much-needed safe water for drinking and personal hygiene for our houseless community members.
Each week they distribute over 300 gallons of water weekly to our most vulnerable population and provide potable drinking water to over 100 clients. This program also helps reduce the use of park facilities and public fountains for personal hygiene.
My committee is overseeing the formation of the newly created East Maui Regional Community Water Authority Board—established by charter amendment during the Nov. 8 election. The board will appoint the East Maui Water Authority’s director, set policies for the authority and develop a long-range watershed-management plan.
Applications are available at https://www.mauicounty.us/emrcbapplication/. For more infomation, please contact my office at (808) 270-7246.
I encourage community members to attend our residency-area budget meetings at the Kīhei Community Center on Monday, the Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center on Wednesday and the Lānaʻi High and Elementary School Cafeteria on Thursday, all starting at 6 p.m.
We are one ʻohana, and each one of us is a valued member of our community. ‘Ike aku, ‘ike mai, kōkua aku, kōkua mai; pēlā ihola ka nohona ‘ohana. Recognize others, receive recognition, help others, recieve help; such is a family relationship.
*Shane M. Sinenci is the chair of the Water Authority, Social Services and Parks Committee. He holds the County Council seat for the East Maui residency area. “Council’s 3 Minutes” is a column to explain the latest news on county legislative and community matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.