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VIDEO: Finance Director Urges Collaboration for Maui Projects

January 2, 2013, 3:52 PM HST · Updated January 2, 4:44 PM
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Hawai’i Director of Budget and Finance Kalbert K. Young. Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

Kalbert K. Young, the Director of Budget and Finance for the State of Hawai’i, and former finance director for Maui County, delivered the keynote address for the 2013 Maui Council Inauguration today.

During his remarks, Young said that never before has there been such a dire need or desire to better engage the state and counties in collaboration.

Projects that he said could benefit from such collaboration include the new Kihei High School, the Maui Memorial Medical Center, roadway infrastructure, and partnerships with key entities on the islands of Lanai and Molokai.

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“We need to do a better job of coordinating,” said Young in his remarks before the council.

One specific project he highlighted in the governor’s budget to the Legislature was the $130 million in funding for South Maui High School’s campus. “It is by far the largest single capital project in the governor’s budget and represents the culmination of a collaborative working relationship between Senator Roz Baker and the governor,” he said.

“Securing the funding through the legislative process will be the next challenge; but what will also be needed is a substantial amount of coordination between the state and the county to ensure necessary entitlements are satisfied, so that construction can begin as soon as procedurally possible,” said Young.

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Along those same lines, Young said the different levels of government could do a better job of coordinating duplicative services. “The majority of us would be hard pressed to determine on site which roadways are state, county, or even private roadways; but there actually is already a fair amount of cooperation between the state highways and the county public works already in practice,” he said.

“It may not be a lot of cooperation at times, but it does illustrate the point that the state and county governments can capitalize more on cooperative arrangements to generate efficiencies in providing government services,” said Young.

In terms of public-private partnerships, an opportunity of note that Young touched upon was the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation and Maui Medical Center’s consideration of exploring a potential partnership arrangement with a private health care facility provider like Banner Health Systems.

“Now, I am not saying that the state, the governor, Hawaii Health Systems Corp., or even Maui Memorial management is likely to proceed on such an arrangement, as there are a lot of hurdles and issues that must be overcome; but this approach is a tremendous thought shift and exemplifies the degree of partnership solutions necessary to sustain this government system,” said Young.

He said the state cannot financially support the hospitals in Hawaii Health System’s inventory to the level that they are probably needed to be funded.  “That is not a good context for the future of Maui’s only true full-service hospital within the county.  Whether an arrangement and issues with a private entity like Banner Health ultimately make sense remains to be seen; but there is no doubt that the current state of affairs for all government health facilities is not sustainable,” said Young.

On the outer island, Young said the state and county should also be excited about the possibilities for partnership with Larry Ellison of the island of Lanai.

“Some of the broad vision and objectives desired for the island by its new owner are indeed intriguing,” said Young.  “The potential for fostering collaborations between government and Mr. Ellison’s team is exciting personally to me, when you think about what Lanai residents can actually look forward to in the future,” he said.

Similarly, Young said, there is ample opportunity for greater state and county partnerships available on Molokai.  “There is potential to cultivate collaboration that could provide economic sustainability for residents there, while preserving the rustic and cultural identity of the island that reflects its heritage and the native Hawaiian culture,” he said.

***The complete video of Kalbert Young’s address is available for viewing in the video feature of this post.

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