WAILUKU - The Maui County Council on Friday pushed forward two major county projects by approving $3.25 million more for the new Kihei Police Station and by giving initial approval for $1.5 million for planning and design of the county's new office building at the old Wailuku Post Office site.
Council Member Mike White, who also chairs the council Budget and Finance Committee, and Riki Hokama, the committee's vice chairman, continued to stand their ground and voted against the measure for more funds for the Kihei station that will come from general obligation bonds. Both members voted against the measure last month during first reading of the bill as well.
While he supports the Police Department, White said he still thought the department didn't immediately need to spend the additional funds it asked for. He added that appropriating the additional funding for the station shouldn't be taken lightly, because it will take more than 20 years for the county to pay off the approximately $30 million debt for the station, even though its cost came in under bid.
Hokama didn't comment on his no vote Friday, but in previous meetings he said that he thought the council had adequately funded capital improvement projects, including the station.
Maui police officials have said that the station is scheduled to be open by Oct. 1 and that the funding is needed to cover costs of change orders, additional equipment and upgrades that were not foreseen when the project first went out to bid.
The other major funding bill before the council, the appropriation of $1.5 million for new county offices at the old Wailuku Post Office site, passed on first reading Friday. It will need another approval by the council.
The funds will assist with designing and planning a new building across the street from the current Kalana O Maui building. County administration officials said the new building will help the county save millions of dollars in rental costs for office space.
In other matters:
* The council on second and final reading approved amending its current budget to include a state Department of Transportation grant of nearly $1 million to assist with installing a sidewalk and other improvements between Kula Highway and Makawao Avenue. Council members said this will increase safety in the area and assist King Kekaulike High School students walking to and from school.
* The council adopted a revised resolution by Hokama to encourage the governor and state Legislature to oppose legislation to permanently cap the hotel-room tax or transient accommodations tax distribution to the counties.
In a document to council members, Hokama said that currently there is a Senate bill at the Legislature that proposes making permanent the $93 million cap on annual TAT-revenue distribution to the counties. Hokama told the members that if revenue grows and more TAT revenues are collected "the only beneficiary is the State of Hawaii."
* On first reading, the council approved $800,000 for Na Hale O Maui's County of Maui Neighborhood Revitalization Program for the acquisition and rehabilitation of bank-owed foreclosed homes. Na Hale operates an affordable homeownership program for Maui families.
* On first reading, the council approved $500,000 for Habitat for Humanity's Building Houses, Building Hope project for acquisition and rehabilitation of units at Harbor Lights in Kahului.
* On first reading, the council approved $800,000 for the Family Life Center's Lower Main Street Project to provide housing for the needy.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.