Maui News

County Council advances fiscal 2025 budget to the mayor for final action

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Maui County Council Chair Alice Lee gavels in a Council special meeting Wednesday for second and final reading passage of the County’s fiscal 2025 budget. PC: Akakū Maui Community Media screen grab

Maui County Council members voted unanimously Wednesday to wrap up their work on the County’s fiscal 2025 budget, sending their spending package to Mayor Richard Bissen for final action.

During second reading, council members heard testimony in favor and opposed to a proposed helicopter program for the Maui Police Department. Without comment, they maintained in the budget Police Chief John Pelletier’s request to reallocate $500,000 in the department’s budget for an air unit with night vision capabilities.

Council members also kept in the budget an amendment approved May 21 to include an additional $15 million (on top of $18 million) in Affordable Housing Fund money for the Pulelehua development in West Maui. That came despite subsequent information from the Department of Water Supply that no water is available for the 310-acre, 500-home housing project by developer Paul Cheng.


Budget, Finance and Economic Development Chair Yuki Lei Sugimura said her committee’s work on the county’s budget was informed by the Aug. 8, 2023, Maui wildfires that devastated Lahaina town and destroyed at least 19 homes Upcountry. The Lahaina fire claimed 101 lives, leveled an estimated 2,155 structures, left 1,162 properties unsafe for habitation and displaced 12,000 people.

The Budget Committee’s priorities were to aid and recovery for the wildfires, find housing for displaced residents and support social service programs for the community’s well-being while continuing to to provide for core county services, she said. The Council’s budget for the county’s operating budget (operations and capital improvement projects) is approximately $1.263 billion, or $8.5 million more than the budget proposed by Mayor Bissen.

“I want to thank the (committee) members because that was very difficult to try to keep the numbers down and try to achieve the big goals and tasks,” she said.


Funding was provided for three new departments: the Department of Housing, the Department of Human Concerns and the Department of ʻŌiwi Resources, and the East Maui Water Authority.

Sugimura said the county’s overall real property assessments increased over fiscal year 2024 because of higher property valuations. The Budget Committee recommended real property tax rates that would raise money needed for the county’s budget priorities.

In addition to the overall budget Bill 60, the Council passed on second and final reading Bill 76, which extends the real property tax relief deadline for long-term rentals to individuals directly displaced by the August 2023 Maui wildfires to June 30, 2024, for leases that are in effect by July 1, 2024.


Sugimura said prioritized county spending includes funding for the final disposition of wildfire debris at the Central Maui Landfill; water and wastewater infrastructure repairs and replacement; roads and sidewalk repairs; and fire flow improvements.

She noted that the county’s lack of housing inventory intensified after the wildfires, and the committee recognized that people displaced by the West Maui wildfires wanted to continue living in Lahaina. “Therefore, we decided it was in the public’s best interest to prioritize housing projects in Lahaina,” she said, adding that the committee recommended appropriations to affordable housing that exceeded the Maui County Charter-required 3% of certified real property tax revenues.

“Throughout the budget process, the members remained unified in their desire to recommend a budget that promoted the priorities of wildfire recovery and mitigation, housing, supportive social services and core services,” Sugimura said. “We truly did our best to allocate resources in a way that would allow us to rebuild and the numbers contained in the budget represent our commitment to the county’s renewal.”

The fiscal 2025 budget goes into effect July 1.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated from its original version to clarify that the Council’s total budget figure is for the County’s operating budget, including operations and capital improvements projects. It does not include grant revenue and special purpose revenue amounting to $1.6 billion to $1.7 billion.

Brian Perry
Brian Perry worked as a staff writer and editor at The Maui News from 1990 to 2018. Before that, he was a reporter at the Pacific Daily News in Agana, Guam. From 2019 to 2022, he was director of communications in the Office of the Mayor.
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