NAWILIWILI — The Kaua‘i County Council’s Committee of the Whole last week finished initial reviews on Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2012, including Capital Improvement Projects.
On Monday, council members will start reviewing Carvalho’s supplemental budget, which is supposed to be released today.
Managing Director Gary Heu said the administration set a new bar for CIPs.
“Why should we tie capital up allocated to a project that we know is not going to be able to expend funds in the next 12 to 18 months?” said Heu, assuring the council that the projects not listed for funding in FY12 would not go into a “black hole.”
Heu said the CIP management program is still in its infancy, and a new management position for the program was an “investment well made.” Thomas Contrades, vice-chair of the state Land Use Commission, was recently hired as the county CIP manager.
Finance Director Wally Rezentes said it’s not “healthy” to float a bond and let it sit unused for many years.
The administration could utilize bond anticipation notes in order to bridge bonds and needed projects in a timely manner, he said.
Rezentes said procurement is time consuming and labor intensive. A single project could take multiple procurements, including bids, environmental work, permits, negotiations and other processes.
“The lead time before we start actually hammering the nail can be quite extensive,” Rezentes said.
The administration has no time requirement to use a recent $60 million bond, but the intention is to use it within three years, according to Rezentes. The county is not allowed to invest the money and make a profit larger than what it is paying in interest.
Council Chair Jay Furfaro said the council should have an opportunity to have quarterly updates from the administration on CIPs, as community priorities could change.
Wailua Emergency Bypass
Council members wanted to find out from the administration where it stands in relation to improving the emergency bypass road between Wailua Bridge and Hanama‘ulu. The road is used whenever there are accidents requiring closures on that portion of Kuhio Highway.
Heu said the administration has previously written to former Gov. Linda Lingle, asking to release funds for the bypass road, but she has declined it based on the state’s fiscal position.
“When Gov. (Neil) Abercrombie came into office we again appealed for the release of those funds,” Heu said. “We initially got a letter indicating that they would not release those funds.”
But since then, Carvalho has been in contact with Abercrombie and the request has been reconsidered, according to Heu.
“I think it’s suffice to say that the mayor’s office is working with the governor’s office to see if there’s any opportunity to get those funds released,” said Heu, adding that the governor’s office has asked for additional information.
Parks and Recreation Director Lenny Rapozo said the department’s main priority is to retrofit lights in public facilities, to avoid taking of endangered seabirds. The administration allocated $1.3 million for the project, but the bids came in much lower, at around $400,000.
“We are required to complete three stadiums by Sept. 30,” Rapozo said. “We’re just going to make it.”
However, County Attorney Al Castillo said in respect to the retrofitting, its completion alone will not guarantee that all of the night games will return.
Doug Haigh, chief of the county Public Works Building Division, said that last year the county funded the design of the Moanakai Road seawall repair. “This year we are funding the construction.”
The seawall repair is funded $1.5 million in the CIP budget.
Haigh said Public Works is still waiting for permits from the Department of Health Clean Water Branch and Army Corps of Engineers.
“We are fairly confident that within this next fiscal year we will be able to start construction,” Haigh said.
However, the administration pulled from the CIP list $1.6 million funding for Kapa‘a’s Pono Kai seawall repair, which had been secured last year.
Haigh told the Kaua‘i Planning Commission in June that the county was only waiting for permits from the DOH and Army Corps. He said in June that the Pono Kai seawall project should start anytime between last fall and the beginning of 2011.
On Wednesday the council approved on a 6-1 vote a resolution establishing a shared-use path along Moanakai Road. The road is supposed to be widened and designated as a one-way road. The Kapa‘a shared-used path will be placed on asphalt on the mauka side of the road, marked by strips, Parks and Recreation Director Lenny Rapozo said.
Councilman Mel Rapozo voted against the resolution because of concerns with the Moanakai seawall. He mentioned the Pono Kai seawall, which now has no time-frame to be repaired.
When the Pono Kai seawall is repaired, a portion of the shared-use path — a few feet away from the wall — will be closed for two months and possibly re-routed, Haigh told commissioners in June.
Mel Rapozo unsuccessfully asked for a deferral, saying he would like a complete briefing from the administration, including from Public Works, prior to voting. To him the seawall should have been a priority over the shared-use path.
Office of Economic Development Director George Costa said Japanese visitor arrivals were up in FY11 compared to previous years, “but more significantly is the (increase in) arrivals from Canada.” Flights from Canada, he said, are coming in full.
Over the years Canadian visitors “have built a reputation,” said Costa, without specifying which reputation but hinting to a reluctance in spending money. But Canadian visitors nowadays average eight to nine days per trip, plus their economy has improved, which resulted in them spending more on Kaua‘i, according to Costa.
“I guess they were, maybe unfairly given the moniker that they don’t spend much,” he said.
“They were seen as a budget client,” Furfaro said. “Now they’re seen as a moderate client.”
The annual Kaua‘i Marathon, scheduled for Sept. 4, is in its third edition. The council is considering funding $150,000 in subsidies to the marathon.
Rapozo asked Costa to provide in writing a complete breakdown of revenues generated by the event, excluding impacts to the community.
Carvalho is proposing $164.98 million operational budget for FY12, plus $84.69 million in CIPs. The administration has not disclosed any potential changes to the supplemental budget Carvalho is supposed to release today.
Furfaro let it slip on Wednesday that the council would be busy the next few weeks reviewing a $158 million operational budget.
Rezentes said he didn’t know how Furfaro had come up with the figure because the administration had not released the supplemental budget yet.
Later in the day Furfaro said he made a $10 million mistake while mentioning the budget.
The mistake was actually a $7 million figure.