Ask The Mayor: Gas Price Gap; Upper Kimo Repair Plans

October 13, 2014, 7:12 AM HST · Updated October 19, 11:49 AM
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Wailuku gas prices. Graphic by Wendy Osher.

Wailuku gas prices as of 10/13/14, according to data compiled by the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge report. Graphic by Wendy Osher.

The mayor answers questions from the public in this series.

By Mayor Alan Arakawa

Q: I have noticed there are major price differences between the islands concerning gas prices, with Maui always the highest.

Average price per gallon of gas are as follows: Hilo’s is $4.06; Oahu is $4.14; and Maui is $4.40. The difference ranges from $.34 to $.26. Begs the question of why are Maui’s gas prices so high?

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I will assume the difference in fuel prices would be the amount of taxes Maui adds to a gallon of gas. What is Maui doing with the extra fuel tax funds they collect, over what the other islands collect? Can you please provide an accounting of what Maui County does with its fuel taxes? Are our roads in better shape than the other islands, concerning the state of repair?

A: Yes, historically there have been pricing gaps between the various counties, but according to data provided by the State Dept. of Taxation, the current gas tax rates are not to blame. Maui County’s gasoline and diesel oil tax has been consistent at sixteen cents per gallon, which is lower than all other Counties except Hawaii County.

In fact, Kauai’s tax rate increased to $.17/gallon this past July; Oahu’s rate is holding steady at $.165/gallon. Hawaii County drivers pay $.08/gallon in gas and diesel tax.

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All drivers throughout the state pay an additional $.17/gallon in State gas/diesel taxes, but drivers filling their tanks with biodiesel pay just $.04/gallon in State taxes and no County fuel taxes except in Honolulu.

Our fuel taxes are allocated to the County’s Highway Fund, which helps pay for the repair and maintenance of our roads, traffic lights and other expenses as they pertain to the administration of County roads.This gas tax rate of $0.16 per gallon has not changed since my administration took office; however, fuel prices are notorious for fluctuating on a weekly or even daily basis.

There are numerous other market factors that may contribute to the variations in gas prices on the different islands, but it appears from the official tax table that gasoline and diesel taxes are not the culprit.

Upper Kimo Drive. Maui Now graphics.

Upper Kimo Drive. Maui Now graphics.

Q: I wrote a few months ago about the poor condition of Upper Kimo Drive in Kula while it was undergoing waterline work.

The work has now been completed for over a month and the road has not been repaired, paved or otherwise touched by the County.

It remains a gravel-filled, pseudo off-road nightmare. What does it take to get our neighborhood access road returned to a “normal” state? Just curious, everyone who lives up here is…

A: The post-waterline construction repaving of Upper Kimo Drive is scheduled to begin next week. The waterline replacement project had been delayed by bad weather, which meant that the contractor had to begin working on another project that had already been scheduled.

In the meantime, residents such as yourself who use Upper Kimo Drive on a regular basis were upset about the condition of the road.  Thankfully, the contractor has worked closely with our staff to get the repaving project back on track, and we were able to coordinate the work without losing funding for the project.

Barring any further weather delays or other unforeseen circumstances, the repaving should begin as scheduled the week of October 13-17.

Want to Ask the Mayor?

Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email: [email protected], phone: 270-7855 or mail: 200 S. High Street, 9th Floor, Wailuku, Hawaii 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.

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