COUNTY MAYORS PRESENT PRIORITIES FOR 2009 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

January 15, 2009, 10:37 AM HST · Updated January 15, 10:53 AM
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Maui Mayor Tavares Announces Priorities
Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares announced her priorities for the 2009 legislative session during (a hearing before the House Finance and Senate Ways and Means Committees) a joint conference at the state capitol on Tuesday.  In addressing lawmakers, Tavares said she would not be making any direct requests for funding given the difficult financial situation.  She did however focus on issues relating to agriculture, health care, reef protection and conservation funding.  This included requests for revisions to the state water code, creating a white list for reef fish that meet responsible extraction criteria, and revising the state’s Certificate of Needs process to increase local control in health care.

Kauai Mayor Carvalho Seeks Funding for Watewater Plant & Bypass Road
On Kauai, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. asked for $6 million for the expansion and upgrade of the Waimea wastewater treatment plant; and $950,000 for the repair and upgrade of the emergency bypass road in Wailua-which Carvalho says is essential in assuring access from the east and north shores to the rest of the island.  “The scope of the improvements covered by this request includes the planning and implementation process for reconstruction of some sections of the road base, general resurfacing for a single lane, one-way traffic road and safety enhancements such as guardrails, signage and delineators,” said the mayor.  He also noted that the extensive rain and flooding events of Dec. 13 to15 on Kaua`i have rendered the bypass virtually impassable until numerous temporary repairs are made.  In his testimony, the mayor pointed out that in addition to seeking state help, the county is taking steps to help itself, including: reducing departmental travel budgets by 50 percent; suspending the filling of vacant positions except for those that impact public health and safety; directing department heads to implement budget cuts of 10 percent across the board for next fiscal year; and aggressively pursuing new grant funds and federal economic stimulus dollars.  Both requests were approved by the county council in November and represent 50 percent of the total funding required for the projects.

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Later this week, Mayor Carvalho will travel to Washington, D.C., where he along with the other three Hawai`i mayors, will attend the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the presidential inauguration. During their trip, the mayors will meet with Senators Inouye and Akaka to discuss the status of the federal economic stimulus packages. Kaua`i’s stimulus request totals just over $100 million.  “We don’t want to miss any opportunity to infuse dollars into our economy at this time when businesses are really struggling,” said Mayor Carvalho.

(Posted by Wendy Osher:  Thursday, January 15, 2009)

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