Bill would ease cost for water meters

Maui County Council Member Mike Victorino has introduced a bill to provide relief to residents seeking an Upcountry water meter whose water system development fees would double under the fiscal 2013-14 budget set for initial approval Tuesday.

The proposal by Victorino, chairman of the council’s Water Resources Committee, also will come before council members Tuesday. That meeting will begin at 10 a.m. in the eighth-floor Council Chambers of the Kalana O Maui building.

The bill affects approximately 1,250 water meter applicants who were on the Upcountry water meter waiting list between Nov. 1, 2001, and Oct. 5, 2012, the latter being the date when higher fees were formally proposed to the council.

Under Victorino’s proposal, eligible applicants for a standard five-eighths-inch meter would pay $6,030 instead of $12,060 (the amount of water system development fees in the council’s proposed budget). It would affect applicants for water meters on as many as three lots.

“It is only fair that the development fees in effect on October 5, 2012, apply to applicants who were placed on the meter list between November 1, 2001, and October 5, 2012,” Victorino said. “Those applicants have been waiting patiently for water meters and have sacrificed a great deal of time and money. They shouldn’t be penalized because the county wasn’t able to provide an adequate supply of water before the fees rose so significantly.”

Applicants who’ve been waiting for Upcountry water meters since before Oct. 31, 2001, have already been protected from any fee increase in a previously enacted ordinance, the council member said. There are about 250 such applicants.

The new budget takes effect July 1.

Late last year, council members approved legislation to terminate the Department of Water Supply’s 18-year-old waiting list for Upcountry water meters. As of June 30, the list had nearly 1,500 applicants.

Water officials maintained that the list could be eliminated by maximizing the use of Upcountry surface water while encouraging residents to conserve water.

The bill established Jan. 1, 2013, as the last day for applicants to sign up for meters.

The water department is continuing to offer meters to those on the priority list, in order of their sign-ups, as they become available. Officials estimate that it will take two to three years and an additional 3.5 million gallons of water per day to provide Upcountry water meters to those seeking them.

At least 150 more applicants were added to the list between June 30 and Jan. 1.