TAVARES: “IMPROVING INFRASTRUCTURE IS A HIGH PRIORITY”

February 11, 2009, 9:00 AM HST · Updated February 11, 9:00 AM
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(Story & Photos by Wendy OSHER © 2009)

Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares called for improvements to infrastructure, but cautioned that her upcoming budget proposal will be restrained by reduced revenues. She made the statement during her 3rd State of the County Address in the Council Chambers yesterday.

“In these times, it is important for government to increase our efforts to support and lift the economy,” said Tavares, “A high priority is to focus on improving our infrastructure.”

Mayor Tavares said a $127 million commitment to CIP spending is an important part of putting money into the County’s economy.

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“Making these investments improves our economic viability in the long run. In the short run, moving forward on these projects puts money directly into the hands of those employed in Maui County to do the work required,” said Tavares.

Tavares also spoke against a state proposal to keep Hotel room taxes that had been allocated for county use in the past, saying it would be “devastating” for the county and its revenue stream.

Tavares expressed concern saying, the county normally receives millions from the T.A.T. each year.

Looking to the future, Mayor Tavares announced the awarding of over $1 million in federal funds for the planning and design of the Wailuku Municipal Parking Structure-a project she said has been languishing for over 20 years, and $850,000 for the planning and design of an Emergency Management Center.

Tavares also noted that Maui County submitted 58 “Ready to Go” projects totaling more than $200 million as part of proposal for President Obama’s economic stimulus package.

“As one of 170 Mayors invited to participate on a conference call with the President’s economic team, I can tell you that the Obama Administration keenly understands that counties across the nation will play a central role in bringing about economic recovery,” said Tavares.

While the mayor does not expect to receive the full amount, she expressed confidence that funding would be appropriated fairly throughout the U.S.

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