Council OKs budget on first reading

WAILUKU – The Maui County Council on Tuesday unanimously passed on first reading a $604 million budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Final approval of the budget measure is expected June 6, a few days before the council’s June 10 deadline. The first reading approval vote was 8-0 with Vice Chairman Robert Carroll excused.

Several amendments were brought up and all but one was approved. Most offered conditions on how money could be used on specific projects and programs.

“We worked very hard to balance this budget, and I thank staff members for the long hours of deliberation,” said Mike White, chairman of the council’s Budget and Finance Committee.

His committee hammered out a $604 million budget, which is about $19 million less than Mayor Alan Arakawa’s proposal of $623 million. The council’s proposed budget is still about 8 percent or $45 million more than the current fiscal year budget.

Highlights of the proposed budget, initially passed by the committee earlier this month, include:

* a $10 million appropriation for countywide main line and water infrastructure improvements to help ease the Upcountry water meter problem.

* $16.6 million for a multipurpose center and gymnasium at the South Maui Community Park. An amendment to require no more than $600,000 for the planning and design of the center or gymnasium was approved Tuesday. The committee noted that the center would attract larger sporting events and income to Maui.

* $200,000 for the Maui Economic Development Board to help build new businesses and to create jobs.

* $4.5 million for a Molokai baseyard.

* $1 million for the Kaunakakai Police Station.

* $500,000 for the Lanai Community Health Center.

* $250,000 for planning and design of a new youth center facility on Lanai.

Countywide, $21 million was alloted for water supply upgrades, $5 million for road resurfacing and pavement restoration, and $7.4 million for park capital improvement projects.

The budget also boosts funding to most nonprofit agencies and trims county operational costs and expansion positions.

The council passed a resolution earlier this month calling for a 3.1 percent across-the-board property tax rate reduction. The mayor’s proposals to increase trash pickup and tipping fees were nixed.

In other matters, the council provided “the final element of the Maui Island Plan” by approving unanimously on second and final reading the long-term implementation program.

Nearly a dozen residents testified Tuesday, mostly in support of the implementation program.

The plan, adopted in December 2012, provides direction for future growth, the economy, and social and environmental decisions on the island through 2030. The plan is broken down into capital improvement projects, policies, regulations and other growth-related issues.

The implementation program includes guidelines for policymakers on capital improvements, timing and financing, Gladys Baisa explained in her “Chair’s 3 Minutes” column in The Maui News on Sunday.

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at