Kekaha HCB meeting clarified

Editor’s note: The Garden Island’s article “Kekaha Photovoltaic project, others get new OK” that ran on May 9 contained several substantive errors. We are running this story to present the correct information in the clearest format possible.

KEKAHA – After a May 7 meeting, projects requesting money from the Kekaha Host Community Benefits program are now in the hands of county departments and the mayor’s office for final funding approval.

The Kekaha Host Community Benefits Citizens’ Advisory Committee held its final recommendation meeting Monday evening at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center.

The committee approved four projects at its April meeting. At last Monday’s meeting, the committee was reviewing the applicants’ revised budgets and work plans developed in response to the CAC’s recommendations.

The E Ola Mau – Kekaha photovoltaic project is the largest project, and CAC recommended its full $780,000 request for phase one of a $4.4 million long-term project. Phase one would place photovoltaic systems on 122 owner-occupied homes  in Kekaha, starting with those who have lived in the community the longest.

The project’s stated goal is to eventually have the entire community equipped, and to set an example for the Westside and the entire island.

All of this from a project that began in seventh place as a priority, CAC Chairman Bruce Pleas said. The project started with a goal of 80 owned or 121 leased photovoltaic systems.

But after working through qualification criteria, the CAC said it was impressed that this initial grant begins the process of widening the project’s scope from assisting a segment of the community to a full-blown community project.

“The community came to vote on it and wanted it right away,” Pleas said.

With approximately 750 owner-occupied homes in the Kekaha area, the ambitious project presents a long-term challenge.

On Monday, the CAC resolved concerns with a planned 11-resident project committee that appeared to have power to approve or deny resident applications. The CAC wanted to ensure the county retains that authority and that the committee would verify residency information.

CAC facilitator Diane Zachary recommended that the group work with the county in resolving questions.

Kaua’i County Energy Coordinator Ben Sullivan was present at the meeting to answer any questions the project leaders or the committee might have.

“Trashology 101,” a Boys & Girls Club of Hawai’i project on Zero Waste for Kekaha’s keiki in grades 3 to 5 was discussed.  There was no one present from the organization to answer questions, but after much debate about whether to request a deferral or to send a no-recommendation to the mayor, the CAC said a deferral would send the wrong message and approved the project’s revised budget for $10,000.

Pleas said he was concerned with using HCB funds to pay for personnel and that the $200 for paid trainer hours was not appropriately placed. There were also questions about mileage, telecommunications costs and publication premiums.

In April, the CAC had recommended $10,000; the original request was $51,840. The largest line item had been a $43,500 half-time coordinator position.

“We are done with our process,” said CAC member Robert Jackson in the meeting. “We are sending the information that the county wants to make their choices. They want our recommendations. Is the deferral sending a wrong message?”

“We already recommended it,” said CAC member Myra Elliot.

The board voted down the motion to defer, but did agree to recommend the $10,000 revised budget with attention to a $200 discrepancy.

In a similar request, the CAC asked the Kekaha Community Garden to reduce its original $41,855 “Many Hands, Light Work” project to $25,000.

Director Dianne Shoemaker said she would work with other sources of funding to make the project succeed and said she appreciated the approval for the reduced grant.

There was a lot of discussion about restrictions on using grant funds for salaries. There was concern that such a restriction was not yet in place, but the CAC said it would send a message that funds are for community use, not staff salaries.

The budget for the The Rainbow Road Project, previously under the fiscal sponsorship of the American Cultural Arts Cooperative but now sponsored by Storybook Theatre, was recommended at a reduced level of $15,000; its original request was $70,887. Group member Ron Olen  agreed to committee recommendations that he donate sound, video and computer equipment purchased with grant funds to the Kekaha Neighborhood Center at the conclusion of the project.

Another project, The “W,” under the fiscal sponsorship of E Ola Mau, was approved for $5,000.  The CAC said most of the money is going to fund 50 scholarships for Kekaha youth.

The Kekaha Pop Warner Football Community Awareness Presentations project and Kekaha Elementary School Garden Project each had already been approved for $5,000. The St. Theresa School Renewable Energy Project also was previously funded.

The County of Kaua’i established the Kekaha Host Community Benefits Fund in 2008 to compensate that community for hosting the Kekaha Landfill Horizontal Expansion landfill. Projects recommended by the committee are forwarded to the county for the mayor to review and approve funding from a total of $903,000 available for grant proposals that benefit Kekaha residents.

Pleas said that for 2013 the group is working on a stronger outreach effort to increase the community building process to six months or longer. For 2012, Pleas said the timetable was compressed with just enough time to run workshops for groups to complete the forms and get through the application process.

For a more concise process they would like at least six weeks for the short form applications — those seeking $5,000 or less — and 12 weeks for proposals asking for more than $5,000, which require long-form applications.

Learn more at www.KekahaHCB.net.

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