Saturday, October 27, 2001

Legislators support
privatization of 2 boat harbors

By Treena Shapiro

Privatizing the Ala Wai and Honokohau small boat harbors could stimulate the construction and boating communities, says state Rep. Paul Whalen.

Whalen (D, Kona-Kau) said two private companies have proposed spending $20 million each to improve the state harbors, which the state does not have to invest. The improvements would be done if the harbors are privatized, he said.

Harbors around the state require $130 million for maintenance, he said.

"Everyone would agree (the harbors) are being poorly managed," Whalen said.

State representatives will discuss a resolution privatizing the two harbors in a hearing Monday.

State lawmakers passed a privatization law last session that authorizes the governor to contract services with private entities, including harbors.

Resolution co-sponsor Rep. Ezra Kanoho (D, Lihue, Puhi, Waipouli) said the issue is being discussed during the special session to clarify whether harbor maintenance costs are $130 million, or $300 million as has been suggested.

"The state does not have that kind of funding available, so the privatization of our small boat harbors would enable private entities to construct badly needed facilities," he said.

Leasing the harbors also would bring in more revenue to the state, he said. "Currently revenues are primarily restricted to Ala Wai. All the other small boat harbors really do not generate revenues."

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