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Emergency action taken to support Iao Valley recovery

CHAIR’S 3 MINUTES

The Maui County Council has used its emergency powers to quickly appropriate $5 million to support recovery efforts in the aftermath of last month’s stunning Iao Valley flooding.

The County of Maui is working with all levels of government to ensure we are able to keep our community safe. I appreciate the hard work of county personnel and the many different agencies and private partners who have responded to this unexpected event.

I am also grateful for the Iao Valley residents and other concerned community members who have taken the time to testify before the council and provide input so we can move forward in the best manner possible. The council has committed to continue supporting the recovery efforts, while also exercising a great level of due diligence from an environmental, cultural and fiscal standpoint.

After touring the area with officials overseeing the recovery efforts, I know the massive scale of the work. I also understand additional cleanup may be necessary, so the council on Oct. 7 referred the matter of supplementary funding to the Budget and Finance Committee, chaired by Council Member Riki Hokama, for further consideration and discussion with the community.

The council also referred to Hokama’s committee a proposal to authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds to fully fund the skate park to be located at the Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center complex in Pukalani. This long-awaited Upcountry skate park should be operational by late next year, according to the Department of Parks and Recreation.

The council also approved eight proposed state laws for inclusion in the 2017 Maui County Legislative Package. The proposals will be formally presented to the state Legislature when it convenes in January.

One of the proposals would give the counties a greater voice in collective bargaining negotiations, while another would return a greater share of transient accommodations tax revenue to the counties where it is earned. These state bills would provide more balance in the relationship between the state and the counties and provide more fairness to county taxpayers.

Other proposals would amend the state Sunshine Law by allowing council members to share government records with their colleagues and the public and to freely attend community meetings, respectively. Enactment of this state legislation would further government openness, transparency and accessibility.

Other elements of the county package address land use and affordable housing. Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee Report 16-155, available on the council website, provides all of the details.

The next council meeting is Friday at 9 a.m. The agenda and supporting material are available at mauicounty.us.

Bill 95 (2016), which would provide equipment funding of $30,500 to the Molokai Humane Society and $20,500 to the Maui Humane Society, is up for second and final reading. Bill 100 (2016), establishing a crosswalk at South Kihei Road adjacent to the Kihei Holiday Resort, as requested by residents and approved by the Public Works Commission, will also be considered for final passage.

The council is on pace to have one of its most productive years.

Oct. 7 is the second-earliest date in County of Maui legislative history, dating back to 1905, by which 100 bills have been passed in a year. I thank my colleagues and our partners in the community and administration for helping to make this council so productive and responsive.

Mahalo.

* Mike White is chairman 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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