Mayor says deletion of funds hamper completion of S Maui Park Phase 1A

May 18, 2010, 3:32 PM HST · Updated May 18, 8:32 PM
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Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares urged the council on Tuesday to reconsider funding for the Department of Parks & Recreation and the Department of Fire and Public Safety. Her testimony was given prior to the passage of the budget on first reading in a unanimous 8-0 vote. The latest adjustments proposed by the Mayor were not accommodated in the latest version of the budget.

“The budget you will be acting on today contains many areas that I fear will have severe impacts in the short and long terms,” said Tavares.

South Maui Park and PALS coordinator among the Mayor’s Parks requests

File Photo of Mayor Tavares at the Ground Breaking of the South Maui Park.

One area of concern expressed by the Mayor was the reduced funding for positions within the Department of Parks and Recreation. She argued against the deletion of $250,000 for Countywide Parks Facilities, saying the loss of funds would hamper the completion of Phase IA of the South Maui Community Park.

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Tavares said two issues have arisen during construction including the additional cost of hooking up water for the park, and the instability of the soil that was discovered during site excavation.

In an effort to identify the $500,000 that she said was need to address the issues, Mayor Tavares proposed that $300,000 in General Funds be taken from the Pu’unene Raceway Park Resurfacing project with the additional $200,000 she proposed to be transferred from the Countywide Bond Fund.

While the Budget and Finance Committee restored some of the Equivalent Personnel positions prior to passing the budget out of committee, Mayor Tavares asked the council today to restore the count to reflect what she had proposed in her version of the budget.

The Mayor also requested funding be restored for the Recreation Leader II position and the District Supervisor position for South Maui, suggesting that funding for both posts be obtained from Self Insurance program funds.

In reference to the Recreation Leader post which is responsible for coordinating the county’s PALS program, Mayor Tavares said, “This program is a model for the state – a truly affordable program for kids during the summer break that helps many families in our community.”

In reference to the South Maui District Supervisor, Tavares said, not funding the position would result in the district being short one worker. “All the positions in South Maui are critical in light of the addition of the new South Maui Community Park to be completed (Phase 1A) in FY 2011,” said Tavares.

Mayor seeks full funding of Fire Helicopter and Assistant Fire Chief position

For the Department of Fire and Public Safety, the Mayor requested full funding for the Assistant Chief of Operations position saying, “This Assistant Chief is the third person in the command structure preceded only by the Fire Chief and the Deputy Fire Chief. This is the person who coordinates responses to fires and other emergencies.”

Mayor Tavares explained the role of the department in fighting the recent Olowalu fire two weeks ago that burned 1,100 acres as well as smaller fires that have broken out since then.

“We have a well-trained, dedicated team of firefighters and their commitment to protecting lives and property is one we can all be very proud of. We need to assure them that the resources necessary to carry out their mission will be there for them whenever needed. This position is critical to the Fire/Rescue Operations Program,” said Tavares.

Committee members restored partial funding to the post before passing the item out of committee, but Tavares sought full funding and suggested that the additional $52,600 be obtained from the Self Insurance program line item.

Tavares also sought the restoration of funds for the Fire Department’s helicopter services suggesting that $265,000 be transferred from the Self Insurance program saying it, “would afford the department the confidence that they can call upon helicopter services whenever those services are needed to fight fires or to perform rescues.”

“I don’t believe it was ever your intention that the department hesitate to call up resources necessary to quickly attack fires or perform rescues. We are all aware that we are in the worst drought in Hawaii in 30 years. It is reasonable to assume that our Fire Department will be called on many times to deal with brush fires here on Maui, on Molokai and on Lanai, in addition to other fires like the one at a hotel in Kaanapali just a few days ago,” said Tavares.

The Mayor addressed the council saying, “Your work has not been easy. We all certainly recognize the time and effort all of you have invested in the framing of a budget suitable for these tough economic times.”

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