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Input in county spending sought

Our County

This month and next, my administration is hosting a series of community meetings to receive input on how your taxpayer dollars should be spent. It’s our opportunity to listen to you and take in suggestions for how to best serve our community as we prepare a proposed budget for fiscal year 2020-21, which runs from July 1, to June 30, 2021.

So far, we’ve held meetings Upcountry and in West Maui. The next meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Velma McWayne Santos Community Center in Wailuku. That will be followed by meetings on Oct. 7, at the Paia Community Center and Oct. 8, at the Kihei Community Center, both starting at 5:30 p.m. The Molokai and Lanai community meetings will be held on Oct. 21, at the Mitchell Pauole Complex in Kaunakakai and Oct. 22, at Hale Kupuna O’Lana’i (Hale Mahaolu) on Lanai, starting at 3:30 p.m. The final meeting is set for Oct. 28, at 5 p.m. at Helene Hall in Hana.

The meetings begin with an overview of the current budget and comments from Mayor Victorino, followed by an hour for attendees to visit with department directors and staff. It’s an opportunity for one-on-one interaction for you to ask questions and share budget-related needs and concerns.

If you are unable to attend the meetings in person, you may still share your thoughts by completing the Fiscal Year 2021 Community Budget Request, which can be accessed on the website and forwarding it to Budget.Office@co.maui .hi.us. Your valuable input will assist the mayor and the departments as we develop the county’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2021.

For more information, contact the County of Maui Budget Office at 270-7855 or visit www.mauicounty.gov/Budget.

Staff from the county’s Community Development Block Grant Office will also be on hand at the community meetings to provide information and gather input on the county’s use of funds. CDBG is a program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that provides grants to states and local governments to devise innovative and constructive approaches to improve the physical, economic and social conditions in their communities that will benefit people of low and moderate income. In Maui County, the federal funds are used for housing and community development needs, primarily for low- and moderate-income residents.

The CDBG Office is working with the Department of Housing and Human Concerns to develop a Consolidated Plan for 2020-2024. To gather public input on how federal money should be allocated, residents are encouraged to complete an online survey at www.mauicounty.gov/ ConsolidatedPlanSurvey. Completed surveys will be accepted through Oct. 17. Anonymous surveys won’t be accepted.

The survey asks respondents to rate different subject areas from highest to lowest relative need. These include new rental and homeowner housing, special needs housing and community and economic development.

Meanwhile, Maui County is gearing up for the 2020 U.S. Census. Because of poor participation in the census in the past, Hawaii has not received as much federal funding as it should. Each undercounted person represents $2,600 less in federal funding for our state. So, I encourage everyone to participate in the U.S. Census.

There are a number of myths about the census, including that those who participate in the census will be called upon for jury service. That’s not true. In fact, answers to census takers are kept strictly confidential under the U.S. Code.

The stakes are high. Nationally, $675 billion in federal funding annually is allocated based on U.S. Census data. The census also determines representation in Congress.

If you’re looking for employment, workers are being recruited to help with the census. For more information, call (800) 992-3529 (recruiting hotline) or go to www.2020census.gov/jobs or www.usajobs.gov.

* “Our County,” a column from Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino, discusses county issues and activities of county government. The column usually appears on the first and third Saturdays of the month.