Council’s Budget Transmitted to Mayor, Affordable Housing Highlighted

June 6, 2019, 7:20 PM HST · Updated June 19, 7:39 AM
Wendy Osher · 4 Comments
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The Maui County Council officially transmitted it’s version of the budget to the Mayor’s office today.

The Maui Council’s $823 million budget is about $43 million more than the mayor’s version (which came in at approximately $780.8 million) and features the expansion of housing opportunities for residents.

A significant action was the council’s move to double the appropriation of real property tax revenue to the Affordable Housing Fund from 2% to 4%, which now puts that fund at over $14 million.

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“And you can do something with $14 million,” said Tom Blackburn-Rodriguez, and affordable housing advocate on Maui. “So I think it’s a historic achievement, I think this council did an excellent job… But the real impact is going to be on the families of Maui who are able to rental assistance, who are able to get first time homebuyers assistance, who may be able to get into housing that’s affordable in perpetuity,” he said.

The council also supported $1 million for experimental housing, and $2 million towards the first-time homebuyers fund. Highlights also focused on social services, sea level-rise, infrastructure and environmental protection.

Council Vice-Chair Keani Rawlins-Fernandez ran through a list of other appropriations: “$400,000 more to control invasive species–miconia, coqui and little fire ant eradication; $9.5 million for the potential purchase of the Wailuku Water Company and $3.5 million for the Lānaʻi Youth Center and Skate Park,” she said.

In an effort to fund programs and projects sought by the public, the council raised real property taxes by about $17.6 million over the Mayor’s proposal, with about 88% of the increased revenue attributed to short-term rentals and the hotel/resort categories.

Council Chair Kelly King said, “And if the short-term rental rate causes people to… the property tax rate causes people to say, well now I can’t afford to do it, you know, go rent to a resident long-term. There’s not extra taxes for that.”

The council’s budget now awaits the Mayor’s signature. If signed, it will take effect on July 1st.

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    Highlights of the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget
    (as outlined by the Council):

    Operating Budget: $670,637,685 (vs Mayor’s $648,073,663)
    Capital Improvement Program Budget: $152,839,826 (vs Mayor’s $132,696,176)
    Total Budget: $823,477,511 (vs Mayor’s $780,769,839)

    Affordable Housing and Homelessness:

    • $850,000 for Hale Mahaolu ʻEwalu Phase II – for the construction of 22 rental units to be rented at 60% or below the area median income
    • $250,000 for planning and design of county-owned lots at the Fairways at Maui Lani
    • $640,000 to Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center to renovate and rehabilitate facilities.
    • Realizing that not everyone looking for a home is interested in buying, the council appropriated another $.4 million to affordable rental housing programs.
    • The council appropriated $2.2 million for homeless programs, including $50,000 to assist homeless residents on Molokaʻi, and $200,000 to acquire a mobile hygiene unit for Central Maui.

    Social Services:

    • $960,000 for food, shelter and safety
    • nearly $1.5 million for substance abuse prevention and treatment
    • over $860,000 for services to the elderly and persons with disabilities
    • nearly $8.8 million for cultural and economic development.
    • For the coming fiscal year, the council funded the animal management program with the Maui Humane Society for nearly $1.6 million to fully cover all contract-obligated services provided to the county.
    • The county funded transit with nearly $14 million for the Maui Bus and nearly $7 million for Maui Economic Opportunity’s paratransit and ADA services.

    Climate Change and Sea Level Rise:

    • A proposed $700,000 study under the Department of Public Works in conjunction with the University of Hawaiʻi, will prioritize mitigation work to county coastal roads.
    • Acknowledging that rising sea levels may require shoreline retreat, $500,000 was appropriated to the Office of Council Services’ budget for Phase I of a Countywide Master Plan for Shoreline Retreat, starting with Molokaʻi.
    • By appropriating $600,000 for planning studies, the council further acknowledged a continuing need to explore alternative sites for the Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility, which is vulnerable because of its coastal location.
    • Lower Honoapiʻilani Highway in West Maui is already seeing the effects of sea-level rise and shoreline erosion. A $600,000 capital project was funded to address these issues at Kaopala Bay.

    Infrastructure:

    • $3.5 million for the Lānaʻi Youth Center and Skate Park
    • $13.5 million for the West Maui Recycled Water System Expansion project
    • $28.1 million for road improvements

    Environmental Protection:

    • $2.6 million appropriated for the eradication of coqui frogs
    • $700,000 appropriated for the containment of miconia and other invasive plants
    • $325,000 granted to the Maui Nui Marine Resource Council for coastal water quality monitoring, Māʻalaea Bay water quality projects and coral reef protection and education.
    • $2.4 million appropriated for watershed protection and management
    • $1.7 million for other environmental protection grants.

    PC: County of Maui / Ryan Piros

    Maui Mayor Michael Victorino presenting his FY2020 budget to the Maui County Council. PC: County of Maui / Ryan Piros

    Council Chair Kelly King (left) and Vice Chair Keani Rawlins-Fernandez. Photo: by Wendy Osher.

    County of Maui / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo
    Mayor Michael Victorino, Hale Mahaolu staff and others break ground Monday morning for the second phase of the nonprofit’s senior housing project Monday morning in the Kulamalu Town Center.

    Nā Hale O Maui Board President, Dave Ward (left) and Cassandra Abdul, NHOM’s Executive Director, presents the keys of their newest permanently affordable home to Lavuai Sisouvong and his wife Andrea.

    Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. Water quality testing program includes 24 South Maui sites.

    Impacts of sea level rise and erosion. PC: Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaption Report.

    Little Fire Ant. PC: Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture

    Coqui frog. Photo credit HISC.

    Wendy Osher
    Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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