LIHU‘E — The county is estimating about $10.625 million in General Excise Tax revenue this fiscal year, down about $7.46 million from the year before.
“We have significant reductions to G.E. funding so that’s going to have an impact in our 10-year plan to get all our county roads repaved,” Department of Public Works Acting Deputy County Engineer Michael Tresler said last Wednesday.
Tresler and Acting County Engineer Troy Tanigawa of the Department of Public Works briefed the Kaua‘i County Council on the county’s resurfacing and repaving road projects on Jan. 13.
The county’s 4.7120% G.E.T., which started Jan. 1, 2019 and runs through the end of 2030, has already netted $25,190,520 in 2019 and 2020. However, the County only gets a 0.5% G.E.T. surcharge of the total.
Most projects are crack and surface seal contracts, and annual island-wide resurfacing contracts with asphalt pavement reconstruction and resurfacing. G.E. funds are also used to supplement larger state projects.
In 2019, the county resurfaced about 14 lane miles. In 2020, it resurfaced 8.5, Tanigawa presented. Most of the 2020 work was done in the Westside and Koloa.
The county used about $1.6 million for the Maluhia and Koloa road strip project, which added a concrete swale to provide better drainage off the roadway through the Tree Tunnel.
Coming up, the county and state are focusing large scale project attention on Oma‘o Road reconstruction, Kawaihau, Mailihuna. Haua‘ala streets, Olohena Road improvements, Kukui Street and Po‘ipu Road.
Resurfacing is chosen through third-party reconnaissance which assesses the physical conditions, service life and determines if the road should be reconstructed or preserved. Then, a engineering and planning review is conducted before a decision is made whether to prioritize the project.
“Until recently, roads have been a major complaint, a major issue for the county,” Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro said. “And you know, I’m just glad to see that due to G.E.T., we actually have the resources and we’re able to start addressing some of these major problems.”
In the past, the county would allocate about $1.5 million a year for road work.
“We see a really big difference in our roads, (and) that has an impact on people’s lives, their attitudes and driving very often daily,” Tresler said.
Councilmember Luke Evslin said it wouldn’t hurt the county to be looking at different forms of revenue for repaving roads.
“My concern was G.E. has always been a regressive form of taxation,” Evslin said. “I do hope that post-2030, that we could figure out a more sustainable funding mechanism for (DPW) that doesn’t rely on G.E. Tax”
This article was updated Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 8:38 a.m. to correct the list of road names and to provide more information on the county’s share of General Excise Tax.