Mayor explains line-item vetoes

On Monday, Maui County Council members will discuss the line-item vetoes that I made to the county budget for fiscal year 2015.

As mayor, my veto powers are not something I take lightly, and I use them only if I feel that the legislation trying to be passed might be harmful to the community. These specific items in the budget were vetoed for different but relevant reasons, which I will now explain.

Hopefully, the community and the council will understand my reasons behind each veto and take the corrective steps that need to be made.

* The new Kahului Community Center: I support this project because Kahului needs a new community center. But we don’t have the land that we need at this time. Alexander & Baldwin has promised the county property as part of a subdivision that it plans to build. A&B is still finalizing its land use plan for the area. This means that the community center property has not yet been subdivided out of the larger parcel and is not yet available. If we don’t have the land yet for the community center, why are we putting aside money that we aren’t going to use? When the time comes and the property is in hand, we will put aside money for this project, but right now we need to concentrate on the current needs of the community.

* Bond funds for the Makawao-Pukalani-Kula Community Plan water supply, the Kula Agricultural Park expansion, the South Maui Community Park and the Molokai Community Plan Area water supply item for the Molokai Reliable Capacity: I support every single one of these projects and, in fact, I introduced all of them. But if the council truly supported these projects, members should have authorized the bonds needed to pay for these projects. Without those bonds these projects are not properly funded. In other words, our council members have a made a shopping list but left their wallet at home. You can’t put projects in the budget when there is no money available to pay for them. It’s basic accounting – you can’t spend what you don’t have. We must budget for our county projects properly, otherwise the county could face legal challenges which would delay these projects anyway.

I object to the language added that states “general obligation bonds appropriated in this ordinance need not be authorized contemporaneously with this ordinance to be included as estimated revenues.” The council included that statement in order to justify the inappropriate budgeting process for county projects.

* Countywide mainline and infrastructure improvements: This administration has always supported improving our infrastructure, and has proposed and implemented hundreds of millions of dollars of water infrastructure improvements over the last 3 years. The Waikamoi Flume is one example. But this particular ordinance puts the cart before the horse and tries to fund a project without changing the present ordinance as needed so that we can move forward with these improvement projects. Until those ordinance changes are made, these funds won’t be able to be used for anything.

* Solid Waste Management Fund: I oppose any restrictions placed upon this fund as it could affect the Solid Waste Operations program. Staffing at our landfills must be kept at a certain level, otherwise we run the risk of being fined by the state Department of Health. If we cannot maintain those staffing levels then our landfill operations and other solid waste services must be cut. We must be able to take action to be able to prevent regulatory noncompliance and these restrictions keep us from doing that.

I hope council members take the time to consider the reasoning behind each veto thoughtfully.

* Alan Arakawa is the mayor of Maui County. He is seeking re-election this year.