LIHU‘E — Residents, Wednesday, again expressed concerns for the county’s upcoming fiscal year 2022 Capital Improvement Projects budget lacking more avenues for waste diversion.
In May, Mayor Derek Kawakami submitted a $243.3 million operating budget and a $24.8 million CIP budget, which is currently going through the channels of approval from the Kaua‘i County Council.
Wednesday, the Committee of the Whole recommended measures covering the operating budget, capital improvements budget and real property tax rates, all of which are up for second and final reading Wednesday, June 2.
The council received over 60 pages of written testimony ahead of the meeting, many calling for funding of a Materials Recovery Facility that would enhance recycling on the island that both lacks a curbside option and faces a time-constrained Kekaha Landfill with less than a decade of lifespan left.
During yesterday’s public hearing, former mayor and councilmember JoAnn Yukimura asked the council to allocate $450,000 for a Materials Recovery Facility in Bill 2819, which covers the CIP budget. The money is the estimated amount needed for the construction design. Construction would cost an additional $10-12 million.
Earlier this month, the fourth draft of the county’s Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan came online for public review. This current iteration of the plan was first adopted in 2009, with one of the highest priorities being a recovery facility, which, did not come to fruition.
“Our current solid waste system is an unsustainable linear system, where natural resources are extracted then transported to a plan to be manufactured into a product,” Yukimura said. “The product then goes to a store, is bought, used, and then it goes to a landfill or is burned.”
And burning isn’t what environmentalists want either.
In written testimony, residents and nonprofits called for the council to reject the proposed Waste-to-Energy study that’s listed at $300,000, and potentially use that money for the MRF.
Cynthia Welti, chair of Surfrider Kaua‘i, said there is “serious concern” about the Waste to Energy study, which is for a feasibility study to converting a green energy plan to incinerate trash.
“While Waste to Energy initially sounds very appealing, so much is now known about the increased greenhouse gases it causes,” Welti said. “Incineration of trash is simply not renewable energy … Please don’t waste more money studying incineration. The money would be far better spent on designing a Materials Recovery Facility to address our waste issues.”
Addressing these concerns earlier this month, county Managing Director Michael Dahilig said the money for the study was initially authorized by the council during last year’s budgeting and the project is still in the procurement process, so this is just being carried over.
And to the topic of a MRF, Dahilig said there is “more than just building the building.”
“The operational side of the balance sheet also has to be matched and penciled out before anything could be considered shovel ready,” he said.
Dahilig said there’s been growth in proposals but there needs to be an ability to subsidize operations before moving forward.
“The most damaging effect of past WTE proposals is that they have delayed moving ahead on diversion efforts like building of a MRF and implementing curbside recycling,” John Harder, former head of the Kaua‘i Solid Waste Division, the state Office of Solid Waste Management and the Maui County Solid Waste Division, said.