Counties seek state funds for health care and housing
Mayor Mufi Hannemann says EMS funding is short $2 million
County mayors emphasized health care and affordable housing yesterday when they presented their wish lists for the upcoming state budget to the Legislature's money committees.
Neighbor island mayors also stressed the need for funds to continue programs to fight illegal drugs, combat coqui frogs and maintain county roadways.
"A lot of the requests were for a lot of the basics: requests that were appropriated in prior years that they're looking for continued funding," said state Sen. Shan Tsutsui (D, Wailuku-Kahului), vice chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. "I don't think there were any surprises by any means."
WHAT THE COUNTIES SAY THEY NEED
A look at some of the budget priorities listed by counties to the Legislature's money committees.
» Emergency medical services funding: about $2 million to make up a shortfall in the executive budget.
» 311 call center: $2.1 million to develop a comprehensive proposal for a nonemergency call center.
» General excise tax surcharge collection: about $4 million to reimburse the city for the initial costs of collecting the half-percentage-point surcharge added to the GET to pay for a mass transit system.
» North Kona water development and storage: $12 million to develop new water sources and infrastructure in Kona.
» Kona Community Hospital emergency room renovations: $8.2 million.
» Hilo Medical Center cardiovascular laboratory: $7 million.
» Coqui frog eradication: $2 million to continue programs aimed at eradicating coqui frog infestations.
» Pouli Road connector improvement: $1 million to ease traffic congestion by linking the state's two-lane temporary Kapaa Bypass Road to Kuhio Highway.
» Coqui frog eradication: $300,000 to control the infestation of the invasive species.
» Affordable Housing.
» Renewable energy and biofuels.
Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann listed funding for emergency medical services as his top priority, saying that the Lingle administration's proposed funding is $2 million short of what the city needs.
"The money is sorely needed," Hannemann said.
Big Island Mayor Harry Kim said his top priority is securing $12 million to develop new water sources in North Kona.
The project, included in Gov. Linda Lingle's budget request, would ensure an adequate water supply for planned affordable housing developments in Kona, Kim said. He said the project could lead to "hundreds" of affordable units for purchase and rental.
He also outlined the needs of his island's hospitals, listing $8.2 million for Kona Community Hospital's emergency room renovations and $7 million for the cardiovascular laboratory at Hilo Medical Center.
Additionally, Kim said the Oct. 15 earthquakes revealed shortcomings in the county's communications systems that would need funding, as well as the need for an insurance program to cover losses from earthquake damage.
Kauai Mayor Brian Baptiste presented lawmakers with a modest wish list, seeking, among other things, $1 million for improvements to Pouli Road. The project aims to ease traffic congestion by connecting the state's two-lane temporary Kapaa Bypass Road to Kuhio Highway.
Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares, the only newly elected mayor, did not have a specific list of projects, saying she was still reviewing the proposals of the previous administration. She said her two main priorities are expected to be affordable housing and the development of a biofuels industry on Maui, Molokai and Lanai.
The mayors also supported the continuation of three laws granting certain liability protections for public recreation areas. The laws are scheduled to expire June 30. They are:
» Act 190, 1996: provides state and county governments with liability protection arising from dangerous natural conditions in oceans next to public beaches with adequate warning signs.
» Act 170, 2002: provides immunity for county lifeguards and county and state governments.
» Act 82, 2003: provides state and county governments with liability protection arising from dangerous conditions at improved public lands that have adequate warning signs.