Maui water floats to top of budget
WAILUKU » Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares has proposed a fiscal 2009 budget that includes $22.2 million for new water source development and more water storage.
"It's very, very critical," she said.
Tavares said water development is her administration's top priority in the budget unveiled last week, which does not call for a property tax rate increase but does increase fees.
She said last year was the first time central Maui had voluntary water restrictions, which still are in force.
Upcountry residents also went through a 10 percent mandatory water cutback for several months in 2007.
Tavares said the development of new water storage facilities in Upcountry areas is important, especially to agricultural communities.
Tavares has proposed spending $15 million to increase water storage in Upcountry Maui.
She wants to spend $7.2 million to look for new water sources in Waikapu, Iao, Haiku, west Maui and Molokai.
Council Member Michelle Anderson, chairwoman of the Water Committee, said she was thrilled to see the county planning to develop water sources rather than relying on private developers.
"It's about time the county took the lead," Anderson said.
Tavares proposed a $561 million budget for fiscal 2009, which represents a 2 percent increase over the $550 million last year.
She proposes cutting back capital spending by 12 percent to $99.9 million, but wants to increase her operating budget by 6 percent to $461 million from $436 million.
Tavares said increases in revenues are needed to pay for an additional $10 million in collective-bargaining salary increases, $1.7 million to a post-employment fund and $1.5 million for a Hana landfill cleanup. She also has proposed adding 32 positions to 11 departments.
Tavares said real property tax revenues are leveling off and expected to increase by $5 million for a total of $220 million. But she said there will be no tax rate increase.
Tavares has proposed increasing water and sewage rates and trash collection fees, raising an additional $9.2 million.
The average monthly rate for a single-family residence is to increase by up to $3.80 for waste-water disposal, $2.75 for water service and $4 for trash collection. Single-family residences now pay an average of $46.65 for waste-water disposal, $41.20 for water service and $12 for trash collection.