Ask The Mayor

Mayor Michael Victorino answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.

Q: Why isn’t there a variable message sign on Honoapiilani Highway in the Lahaina direction? This would serve to alert drivers of accidents and/or construction, thereby reducing the number of people piled up on the pali every time an accident occurs or construction is underway. It could also be utilized to give drive-time estimates to various west side locations. The one that is located east of North Kihei Road could just be relocated and updated.

A: Mahalo for this suggestion and I have some very promising news.

Before I do that, however, I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to the family of the victim from last week’s fatal traffic accident. This is our ninth traffic death already this year, and every single one of them breaks my heart. I urge everyone to please be alert and drive safely.

My staff contacted officials at the state Department of Transportation with your question and I’m happy to report that they are looking at several options to provide information to the public about travel times, road closures, delays, accidents, etc. By the end of the year, the department plans to have real travel times between various points on Maui and live camera feeds at select intersections on the Go Akamai website that Oahu residents use.

Other items the department is looking at include fixed variable message signs on Honoapiilani Highway, as you suggested. There is an existing sign located just past Kuihelani Highway and before North Kihei Road that is not working properly, but the department hopes to repair it and change the messaging.

The department also is looking at temporary variable message signs that would provide travel times through construction sites as well as looking at a phone app that could provide additional information to the public.

For more information, please call the state Department of Transportation Maui District Office at (808) 873-3538.

Q: I have a question regarding the “service fees” associated with online payments of county taxes/services. When paying county bills online, there is a service fee charged if either an e-check or credit card is used. The credit card fee I can understand, as there is a payment to the credit card company incurred. The e-checks, however, have no cost to the county. That is a service provided by banks at no charge to users. In fact, e-checks would seem to be the simplest, easiest form of payment for the county. So why any fee for using an e-check online? This seems unfair to our residents and just another way to nickel-and-dime us come bill payment time, rather than passing on the savings the county is realizing back to the residents. Instead, how about a small credit for using an e-check? Thank you for your consideration on this matter.

A: Mahalo for your time and question. Service fees are one of those regular annoyances we encounter every day, but in this case we unfortunately have to pay for the convenience of using the online service.

Our Department of Finance reported to my office that the online payment system for real property tax is currently provided by the county’s vendor, Point and Pay. This vendor provides a payment gateway service that allows for the acceptance and processing of a variety of electronic payments from various processing points (i.e., internet, over-the-counter and pay-by-phone).

If you are paying your real property taxes online via e-check, a $1.25 convenience fee is passed onto the taxpayers for providing a convenient payment alternative channel. To avoid this convenience fee, taxpayers can pay by check, in-person or when mailing their check. Another option is to sign up for free with the automatic payment program.

For more information, please visit the county’s real property tax website at www.mauicounty.gov/576/Real-Property-Tax-Fee-Collection.

* Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Michael Victorino by email at askthemayor@mauicounty.gov, by phone at 270-7855 or by mail at 200 S. High St., ninth floor, Wailuku 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column; to request a personal response to a concern, email mayors.office@mauicounty.gov.