WAILUKU – The decision on whether Upcountry residents get more county water meters ultimately lies with the county’s fiscal policymakers, acting Department of Water Supply Director Dave Taylor said Wednesday.
“Not to kick the can to you guys, but it’s really a fiscal policy question,” Taylor said during his confirmation hearing before the Maui County Council’s Policy Committee. “Only the council can decide how much this is worth to pursue. We really can’t make that decision for the council.”
Following the recommendation of committee Chairman Riki Hokama, the panel voted 9-0 to recommend adoption of a resolution approving Mayor Alan Arakawa’s appointment of Taylor to head the county’s water department.
On Wednesday, the committee also unanimously recommended approval of John D. Kim as the county’s chief prosecuting attorney. Council members noted that Kim had received universal support during his Jan. 25 confirmation hearing.
Acting Corporation Counsel Pat Wong also had his nomination heard last month, but action on his appointment was deferred then and on Wednesday.
The Policy Committee grilled Taylor on numerous operational and policy questions, including the county’s Upcountry water meter list. That list has more than 2,000 people waiting for water meters, some for at least a decade.
WAILUKU – Earlier this year, the County Council demanded that the Lanai Co. “ask” for an appraisal of the value of its water company, with a view toward acquiring it to be part of the Department of Water Supply.
The appraisal by Brown & Caldwell is in. It estimates that if the county acquires the Lanai water system, rates would have to be raised nearly 900 percent, since costs of operation, new equipment and paying for the system would require nearly 10 times as much money as the $553,000 in revenue that the private company now enjoys.
On Tuesday, the Water Resources Committee, without comment, passed the agenda item on to the next council. If it had not done something, the Lanai proposal would have been filed.
Unresolved council projects expire automatically with the council that gave them birth, unless specific action is taken to pass the uncompleted work on to the next council. The next council will have five new members.
Mayor-elect Alan Arakawa has said since the beginning of his first term in 2003 that he wanted all water in the county to come under public control. That would include private water companies at Kapalua, Kaanapali, the Wailuku Water Co. and East Maui Irrigation.
However, during his first term, Arakawa did not acquire any private water for the county.