By Wendy Osher
An allocation of funds for the Wailuku Main Street Association is drawing the attention of community groups and government leaders who want to ensure the money remains viable while an investigation is underway.
The Maui News reported last week that the Wailuku Main Street Association is under a investigation by the attorney-general’s office for alleged violations of non-profit laws.
In an exclusive interview with the mayor on Tuesday, he said the county moved the allocation, in tact, out of the specific line item for the Wailuku Main Street Association, into small town planning, pending the results of that investigation.
“If the decision is delayed for a long period of time, we want to be able to access some of that money to do some of the work with the small towns that Wailuku Main Street would have done with the money,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa.
“The intent is, if cleared, to work with Wailuku Main Street to reinstate whatever money we can appropriate to them.”
The mayor said the county is also focused on setting conditions so that its clear where fund are being utilized.
“We are currently also going through and trying to make the reporting process much more definitive so that the department has better control over what money is being spent, and how it’s being spent, and how it’s being reported, because it is public funds.”
According to the mayor, there are no specific organizations that are targeted to receive the funds, should they become available; but there are many organizations that could potentially fulfill funding objectives.
“We need to be able to look at how we’re going to be able to fund some of these programs with or without Wailuku Main Street present,” said Mayor Arakawa.
The Kihei Community Association was asking for funding to be able to plan the tree planting and landscape beautification project in South Maui; in Makawao, there’s plans to redo sidewalks and install restroom facilities; and on Molokai, there’s discussion on the redesign of the central area of Kaunakakai.
“There’s a lot of different organizations that want us to look at different things for their communities, and we need to start looking at them not just from a perspective of one organization, but how can we fund this with all the organizations in mind as well.”
Arakawa said the county always asks non-profits to look at other sources of funding; but there are some that require a lot of county funding for a majority of their work. The Wailuku Main Street Association happens to be one that predominantly uses county funds.
“Depending on what the agency is, we do try to encourage as much outside funding as possible, but some do require a lot of county funding for a majority of their work,” said the mayor who noted that much of the Wailuku Main Street work is on in-house county projects.
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