Budget amendments highlight Tuesday’s council agenda

The County Council on Tuesday will hear on second and final reading several important bills to approve fiscal year 2014 budget amendments.

The council normally meets on the first and third Fridays of each month. But this month’s meetings have been rescheduled to Tuesday and March 25, primarily to accommodate council members’ participation in last week’s legislative conference of the National Association of Counties in Washington, D.C.

Bills 12 and 13 would appropriate $200,000 for an archaeological inventory survey for the Mokuhinia Ecosystem Restoration Project in Lahaina. The legislation has been supported by Friends of Moku’ula and the Aha Moku Council of Maui.

Bills 14 and 15 would authorize the purchase of a 26-foot rescue boat and trailer to be housed at the Kahului Fire Station.

The fire chief told a council committee that the Department of Fire and Public Safety maintains boats at the Lahaina Fire Station and Kaunakakai Fire Station. He stressed the importance of a rescue boat for the Kahului Fire Station.

Bill 16 would appropriate funds for the “circuit breaker” tax credit program for the remainder of the current fiscal year. This program provides property tax relief for income-qualified homeowners – helping to ensure they can afford to stay in their homes.

Bill 17 would appropriate $550,000 to be applied toward construction costs for the Kihei Police Station. The money is to be provided by developer Honua’ula Partners to fulfill a zoning condition.

The funding would be used to partially repay the county’s multimillion-dollar loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which helped finance construction of the police station in South Maui.

An additional cashier for the Department of Water Supply would be funded by Bill 18. Investing in this position will be a money saver for taxpayers over the long run, by increasing the department’s efficiency in processing water bill payments.

The department adopted a monthly billing cycle last year, after previously billing water customers every two months. This change doubled the number of payments to be processed.

To better serve the public, a payment window for water bills was opened in the lobby of the Kalana O Maui building at 200 S. High St. in Wailuku. The additional cashier will help the Department of Water Supply keep up with processing payments and providing high-quality customer service.

On Tuesday, the council will also consider legislation to approve a conditional permit allowing the West Maui Boys and Girls Club to continue operations through 2047. This action would provide Lahaina’s youth with recreational and educational opportunities for decades to come.

Tuesday’s meeting starts at 9 a.m. Oral testimony will be accepted in person at the Council Chambers and by telephone at the council’s Hana, Lanai and Molokai offices.

The subsequent council meeting is on March 25 at 1:30 p.m. The council anticipates receiving Mayor Alan Arakawa’s proposed budget earlier that day, launching the annual budget session. The first committee meetings on the budget proposal are expected later in the week.

A hui hou.

* Gladys C. Baisa is chairwoman of the Maui County Council and holds the council’s Pukalani/Kula/Ulupalakua area residency seat. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters.