2023 budget balances fiscal resources with the needs of the community | News, Sports, Jobs

As the Maui County Council puts the finishing touches to its review of the mayor’s fiscal year 2023 budget, members have been busy weighing county revenues and costs as well as the community’s need for valuable services.

From caring for our elders, providing housing assistance to those in need, rescuing neglected animals, or providing recreational opportunities for all ages, the county offers an incredible variety of services and programs that meaningfully benefit all members of our community.

To this end, I have supported and presented priority budget proposals for the coming fiscal year that continue this legacy of serving our residents and visitors to keep them safe, cared for and thriving in a healthy environment. Preserving our communities, our islands and our natural resources can be costly, but it is essential to maintaining the overall health of our ‘aina and our people for generations to come.

One of the priority proposals I submitted in this budget cycle was $90,000 for professional services to support Maui’s first-ever community outreach court. This alternative justice system, modeled after a highly successful program on Oahu, would initially be initiated by the Maui County Attorney’s Office in coordination with the state judiciary and the public defender’s office.

Community Outreach Court will offer those charged with non-violent offenses, like many of our unprotected population, the opportunity to seek a restorative and cooperative way to try these lower level crimes – which is an important step to help individuals to finally break the cycle of homelessness.

A district-related proposal I submitted was for $200,000 for an engineering study in the Kahului neighborhood of Palama Drive, to address the negative impacts that this community has suffered for many years, particularly poor drainage during periods heavy rains.

I also addressed a critical issue that came to light recently – support for child victims of sex trafficking – with my $140,000 priority proposal for Parents & Children Together, known as PACT. This funding will add two full-time staff to PACT to help counsel victims of sex and other forms of human trafficking, as well as needed outreach, education and mentorship in our community, schools and schools. other organizations.

Additionally, my $250,000 raise for the Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation, or HARF, will assist in the completion of HARF’s animal welfare and public education facility in Waihee. The 5,000 square foot multipurpose barn is nearing completion, and this one-time credit will allow HARF to carry out its animal rescue mission and provide educational and therapeutic programs to students and residents of Maui County.

As a true no-kill rescue center, HARF acquires much of its annual funding from private sources and through small donations from many individuals. This county funding is a relatively small — but important and timely — part of the final phase of building this much-needed facility that will also serve larger animals such as horses and cows.

The public still has several opportunities to testify on the budget with council’s proposed amendments, including public hearings on Friday for proposed rates on property tax, vehicle weight tax and vehicle fuel tax. The three rates are fixed by resolution. Council is expected to act on the property tax resolution on Friday and the other two resolutions on May 26.

Bills that set the budgets for operating and capital programs as well as those authorizing the administration to issue bonds and to use bond income in excess of the cost of the projects for which they were issued (“expired bonds”) will receive first reading at the May 26 council meeting and second reading at the June 8 council meeting. You can testify about the budget at public hearings or council meetings, either in person in the council chambers on the eighth floor of the county building, or virtually on the BlueJeans platform.

* Tasha Kama is Chair of the Human Concerns and Parks Committee. She holds the council seat of the Kahului residential area. “3 Minutes of the Council” is a column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Visit mauicounty.us for more information.

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