Budget, permit applications, Maui Bus, infrastructure issues referred to committee

CHAIR’S 3 MINUTES

By MIKE WHITE

The County Council will receive the mayor’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget on Friday and begin extensive review in the Budget and Finance Committee, chaired by Council Member Riki Hokama.

I encourage the public to be engaged throughout this process and to share your thoughts with the committee. Details will be available at mauicounty.us/2018budget.

Aside from budget preparations, the council at the March 10 meeting took action on several items while others were referred to various standing committees.

Conditional permit applications referred to the Land Use Committee, chaired by Council Member Robert Carroll, include the historic 18.9-acre Baldwin estate in Haiku, which seeks to operate as a transient vacation rental, and Lona Ridge in Wailuku mauka, desiring to conduct special events like weddings on the property.

Items referred to the Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee, chaired by Council Member Elle Cochran, include discussions relating to stormwater utilities, pollution reduction projects in West Maui, green waste services, restoration of Maui’s coral reefs, beach erosion, sea-level rise and the county’s information technology infrastructure.

Resolution 17-22 was adopted, authorizing the acceptance of a $5,000 donation from nonprofit Beyond Pesticides to conduct soil analysis on four diverse county parks. The county Department of Parks and Recreation’s direction toward a more economically viable, pesticide-free alternative for turf maintenance was recommended by the Parks, Recreation and Legal Affairs Committee, chaired by Council Member Don Guzman.

Guzman’s committee is also working on recommendations on the north shore property in the Haiku Sugar East Subdivision at Hamakualoa purchased by the county last year.

Council Member Yuki Lei Sugimura’s Policy, Economic Development and Agriculture Committee recommended a list of applicants that was approved by the council to serve on certain boards and commissions. I want to thank the new commission volunteers for their willingness to serve the county.

Meanwhile, the county Department of Transportation has submitted a bill that would allow advertising on the exterior of the Maui Bus. The bill enumerates advertising restrictions, with rates to be set in the annual budget and revenues generated to be placed in the highway fund to partially offset the cost of operations.

This discussion has been around for more than a decade, as previous councils have mulled opportunities for additional revenue. With fiscal challenges faced this year, it’s prudent to consider all options.

The Housing, Human Services and Transportation Committee, chaired by Council Presiding Officer Pro Tempore Stacy Crivello, is considering the matter of an audit of the Department of Transportation. Audits can also provide council members and the public insight into departmental operations.

Meanwhile, Council Member Alika Atay’s Water Resources Committee received presentations from the watershed management partners receiving grants or funding from the county Department of Water Supply. The agencies provided updates on their efforts to protect the natural environment and native species, new challenges and technologies and volunteer opportunities.

The council also adopted Resolution 17-108, urging the governor to set aside a 2.2-acre property in Kaupo for community use. If the governor, via executive order, grants a lease of the property to be managed by the County of Maui, the mayor may allow the Kaupo Community Association to restore and develop the land.

The association has worked diligently to secure funding for a potential gathering place with shelter, dependable electricity, communications and potable water. But because the state Department of Land and Natural Resources indicated that delays are anticipated with a formal lease agreement, funding may lapse, unless the governor acts.

In other news, the deadline for Molokai Community Plan update, which is under review by the Planning Committee, chaired by Council Member Kelly King, was extended to Dec. 29.

For the latest news, visit mauicounty.us.

Mahalo.

* Mike White is chair of the Maui County Council. He holds the council seat for the Paia-Haiku-Makawao residency area. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.

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