The mayor is proposing a $218 million budget ($204 million operating and $14 million Capital Improvement Projects) next year which, as TGI reported, would be the highest in recent history. The lowest budget was recorded on 2010-11 at $147 million so in seven years we have seen about a $7 million a year increase in our taxes. And, what major improvements have the citizens seen for these increases?
None. Absolutely none.
Our roads (300 miles of them) are in horrendous shape. The county is taking in about $17 million a year from gas, vehicle registration, vehicle weight and utility taxes that is supposed to go for our roads repaving and maintenance.
And yet, we are spending about $1.2 million a year of that money for our roads — about 7 percent. And rather than finding out where the bulk of that $17 million is going, the administration suggests that we have the right to add a half percent excise to find more money — more taxes.
One major road in the homesteads, Olohena Road, about 5 miles long and used by thousands of people daily, is in horrendous shape. I believe that it isn’t on the list of paving until 2018 but for the shape it is in, it will be practically undriveable by then! Parts of it have not been repaved for over 20 years and the taxpayers who live on that road certainly deserve better than that.
And, for political reasons, we have repaved roads that do not need it and repave a road (Kealia) costing us $280,000 for a private development by Spalding Monument that never happened. Why are we not using Charter sec 3.17 to find out what is happening?
As Chair Rapozo has said, before overburdening our citizens with more and more taxes, let’s find the waste in our system and correct it.
And, in his budget for 2017-18 the mayor does not even mention the biggest problem on Kauai — traffic. We spend huge bucks on consultants and planners to tell those in power what they want to hear — add bike lanes, more buses, sidewalks, and shuttles to cure our traffic problems — a solution that is a huge myth.
One major fact that the above so-called traffic cures are a myth is that the mass (not a small minority) of the people including all council members will never abandon their vehicles. For work, for necessity, for shopping or simply for convenience they will use that vehicle.
The pilot program that was done with 1,500 county employees getting free bus rides to take vehicles off the roads was a complete failure — only 50 people, or 3 percent, used this “gift.” Just as the shuttle on the North Shore was a failure, people will not abandon their vehicles.
And who is mandating that bike lanes be put along all our roads? When was any pilot project ever done to actually see what usage these bike lanes will have to lessen traffic? Isn’t that what pilot projects are for? One can drive for a month parallel to the bike lanes and never see a biker on them or if one is there, it is for recreation and not transportation. Also, these bike lanes are counter-productive to traffic flow since they narrow our driving lanes. Ask Ray McCormick.
A careful look at the bike lanes by the Kukui Grove shopping area will show a disaster waiting to happen. There is a three-foot stripped lane next to the curb (have no idea what it is for) and then a stripped off, six-foot bike lane with vehicles being able to cross it on off ramps. I have seen vehicles even driving on them.
We must have leadership that stops ready, fire, aiming, leadership that looks into the future growth of Kauai and plans for it. Our General Plan updates have been a joke as problems continue to worsen by the day. We desperately need alternate routes like Sen. Billy Fernandez once suggested 50 years ago but was ignored.
We need added lanes to our roads which the contraflow proves will work. And yes, that is the state, but we seriously need to coordinate all we do with roads and highways and stop pointing the finger at each other.
And finally, we need a moratorium on any further major projects until the infrastructure is first put in place to handle the added impact.
Glenn Mickens is a resident of Kapaa.