$235.3M sought for isle projects


By NANCY COOK LAUER

Stephens Media

The capital improvement budget submitted late last week by Mayor Billy Kenoi is 37 percent higher than last year’s. But don’t expect all those projects to be started right away.

The mayor’s proposal for the next six years includes 83 projects at an anticipated cost of $235.3 million, compared to a six-year plan last year that included 64 projects at $171.8 million.

“We wanted to honor the requests of the council members and also the community development districts,” Kenoi said Tuesday.

Being placed on the CIP list, however, doesn’t make the project a done deal. Before it goes forward, a project must be funded.

“It’s a wish list of sorts,” Kenoi said. “But it’s not just a wish list. It’s a very carefully scrutinized budget list that recognizes the priorities of the community.”

Departments have prioritized where they think the money should first be spent. For the Department of Parks and Recreation — two projects, one in West Hawaii and one in East Hawaii — top the list after more general countywide improvements such as Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, asbestos removal and general repairs to current facilities.

The budget ranks Pahoa Park expansion fifth on the list, followed by Kailua Park master plan implementation. There is $20 million in the 2013-14 budget for the first project, and $15 million for the second. The 2013-14 fiscal year starts July 1. Both projects are expected to be funded primarily with bonds.

Police Department priorities include holding cell improvements as well as a $7 million South Kona Police Station and a $6.6 million East Hawaii indoor firing range.

Of the $235.3 million in the CIP budget, $214.2 million is expected to come from borrowing on bonds, $21 million from federal grants, $20,000 from developers’ fair share contributions and $100,000 from private contributions, Kenoi said in his budget message.

Eight projects will take advantage of the $21 million in federal funds: $10.4 million for the Kaiminani Drive roadway improvements, $4.1 million for improvements to Manono Street, $4 million for the Lono Kona improvement district, $1.5 million for Ane Keohokalole Highway from Hina Lani Drive to Kaiminani Drive, $720,000 for Alii Drive culvert replacements, $80,000 for Kamehameha Highway reconstruction, $80,000 for inspections of various bridges and $40,000 for Mamalahoa Highway.

The $20,000 in fair share contributions are slated for a Honokaa skate park, while the $100,000 in private contributions are for trailways improvements along Kalanianaole Avenue.

The county’s debt service limit — the percentage of general expenditures that goes to pay off old bills — currently stands at 10.1 percent. If the administration borrowed all the money that’s been authorized by the County Council, that figure would go to 12.8 percent. The Government Finance Officers Association, a professional organization of government officials, recommends a debt service limit of no more than 15 percent.

Email Nancy Cook Lauer at ncook-lauer@westhawaiitoday.com.

 

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