Budget, island plan, Kihei high school on council’s agenda

In a busy meeting on Tuesday at 10 a.m., the County Council is scheduled to consider legislation that would approve the fiscal year 2015 budget, the Maui Island Plan implementation program and zoning for the proposed Kihei high school.

The budget legislation is based on the recommendations of the Budget and Finance Committee, which met from March 31 through May 5 to review and amend the mayor’s financial plan for the 12-month period beginning July 1. The committee met on 26 different dates, had meetings in eight districts, including Hana, Lanai and Molokai, and scheduled a special evening meeting on water rates and fees, as requested by constituents.

As noted in the committee report recommending approval of a revised $604 million budget, real property tax rates are set to decrease by 3.1 percent. At the same the time, the budget makes “significant, targeted investments,” as described in the committee report.

The investments include funding increases for most nonprofit organizations, construction at the Lanai and Molokai community health centers, and capital improvements for parks facilities and water systems throughout the county. Economic development is one of themes, with the budget supporting the visitor and agriculture sectors, as well as an initiative to create new businesses and jobs under the Maui Economic Development Board’s leadership.

Bill 29 (2014) – adopting the Maui Island Plan implementation program – is scheduled for second and final reading. The Planning Committee had extensive discussions on the bill during four meetings earlier this year, and the council held a nighttime public hearing on May 14.

The Maui Island Plan was approved on Dec. 28, 2012, after many years of work by the Department of Planning and community volunteers, including members of the Maui General Plan Advisory Committee and Maui Planning Commission. The implementation program is a critical, concluding component of the Maui Island Plan.

To support the Maui Island Plan’s policies and objectives, the implementation program includes guidelines for policymakers on capital improvements, finances and timelines. As the Planning Committee has noted, “implementation of the Maui Island Plan will require a coordinated effort among county and state agencies; the private sector, including nonprofit organizations; and community members.”

With the final component in place, the Maui Island Plan is intended to guide economic, environmental and social progress for years to come. Still, it’s important to remember the council can make adjustments to this and other facets of the General Plan as circumstances warrant.

The council received May 9 from the state Board of Land and Natural Resources a formal agreement on zoning conditions for the proposed new high school in Kihei. This will allow consideration of legislation granting development entitlements for the project, as recommended by the Land Use Committee last fall.

The proposed site for the school is undeveloped land mauka of Piilani Highway in north Kihei. The Department of Education anticipates serving 800 students, in grades 9-12, after phase I of the development, with a target opening in 2018.

Testimony may be submitted to county.clerk@mauicounty.us.

A hui hou.

* Gladys 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.