VIDEO: Arakawa, Baisa Announce Solid Waste Service Restoration
[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtBnhF_xJDU /] By Wendy Osher
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa joined Council Chair Gladys Baisa today in announcing the immediate restoration of regular and holiday landfill hours and trash pickup operations. The announcement was made during a joint press conference held in the mayor’s conference room this afternoon.
The announcement comes on the heels of heated debate between Mayor Arakawa and Budget Committee Chair Mike White, as well as public feedback opposed to the reduced services.
In July, the County of Maui Environmental Management division announced plans to reduce solid waste services in the new fiscal year citing budget constraints. The service reduction was implemented on Aug. 1, 2014.
Mayor Arakawa said that the restoration of services would be implemented immediately, and that he would be submitting a new budget amendment early next year, after the election had passed, to avoid any further “political agendas” and “bickering.” He noted that a budget amendment he submitted last week would be rescinded.
“While I do not consider this the most fiscally prudent strategy, it is the only way to restore refuse services under the current budgetary and regulatory constraints the department is facing,” said Mayor Arakawa in a statement noting that the restoration of services will deplete the Solid Waste Department’s annual funding in a few months.
Arakawa called the solution a temporary one saying that if the council does not approve the budget amendment that he plans to submit early next year, “the department will run out of money and all landfill operations and regular trash pick-up for everyone in the county will again be impacted.”
According to data released by the mayor, the county has already paid an average of more than $560,000 per year since 2006 in addressing non-compliance-related issues. Arakawa said the fines could have been avoided if funding was allocated for specific positions needed to perform landfill functions.
[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSLS88QJJGY /] Department of Environmental Management Director Kyle Ginoza also spoke saying, “Our primary concern is the health and safety of our workers and to maintain regulatory compliance, and in order to do that, it requires a level of resources that we’ve explained in a five year plan to try to be sustainable and resilient to the challenges that we have,” said Ginoza.
Ginoza further explained the situation saying, “We looked at the budget having a shortfall and the way we manage the budget is if we know we don’t have enough money to make it to the end of the year, we felt like we should plan for it upfront, and that’s what necessitated the closures.”
“Looking at how the community has reacted, we are restoring the services, knowing that we will be going back to the council for a budget amendment to ensure that we can make it though the year, and not impact the public with a curtailment of services because we’ve run out of money,” said Ginoza.
[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-NGJ0km-EM /] Council Chair Baisa also released a statement saying she agrees with the mayor that, “this is a temporary measure at best and that we need to look at long-term solutions to the challenges facing our landfills. Until then, we must restore services to the public,” she said.
“My phone has been ringing off the wall. I get stopped everywhere I go because people are very upset about the situation, and they look to us as county leadership to solve the problem. They don’t care about any of the reasons; they’re not interested in the budget; they don’t care about politics. They just want their rubbish picked up, and they want to be able to go to the dump when they need to go. That’s where I’m coming from,” she said at the press conference.
“I want to take care of our community and I want to represent my council well; and I want my council to be perceived as the majority of us being more than willing to work to solve the problem,” she said.