Fire at Waiakea-Uka Gym Causes Change in Venue for Winter Intersession Program

The Winter Intersession Program slated for Hilo’s Stanley Costales Waiākea-Uka Gymnasium will be held at Andrews Gym due to fire damage sustained at Waiākea-Uka Gym.

Waiakea FireOriginal program dates and times will apply to the new venue located within Waiākeawaena Park at 33 West Kawailani Street in Hilo. Open to keiki enrolled in the first through six grades, the winter Intersession classes will be held from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. weekdays starting December 22 and running through January 8, 2015.

The Department of Parks and Recreation regrets any inconvenience caused by the venue change and thanks program participants for their understanding.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 961-8311 or

Police detectives are investigating a fire at the Waiākea Uka Gym in Hilo.

The fire was reported at approximately 4:30 a.m. Wednesday (December 10). Police and firefighters responded and found the fire concentrated at the northwest corner of the building.

Fire personnel extinguished the flames and estimated the damage to the walls and roof area at $65,000.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time but is being investigated.

Police ask anyone with information about this incident to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Norbert at 961-2383 or


Ground Breaking Held for Volcano Transfer Station project

The County of Hawai‘i’s Volcano transfer station will be expanded and undergo structural repairs as part of a $1.06 million project that broke ground today.

Hawaii County Logo

The new transfer station is designed to encourage recycling, and will be able to accommodate green waste recycling, a HI-5 redemption site and reuse operations in the years ahead as the county adds those services in rural communities.

“This project is part of our continuing effort to encourage all of our communities to reuse, recycle and protect the environment,” said County of Hawai‘i’s Mayor Billy Kenoi. “We want to make recycling as convenient as possible so that more and more people will participate.”

Green Aina Engineering designed the project, which uses a design-build approach to allow the contractor to utilize lower-cost construction techniques. The contractor is William C. Loeffler Construction Inc.

The overhaul of the transfer station is necessary because the current facility was built with older construction techniques that included a wooden retaining wall. That wall has now deteriorated to the point where it is no longer structurally sound, according to the county Department of Environmental Management.

The project is scheduled for completion by early summer of 2015.

County Inviting Public to Two Holiday Events

The County of Hawai‘i invites the public to two special holiday events this year – the fourth annual Magic Of The Season open house at the Hawai‘i County Building in Hilo, and the inaugural A Holiday Family Affair at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center in Kona.

Hilo’s Magic Of The Season will run weeknights December 8 – 19 from 5:30 – 8 p.m. at the Hawai‘i County Building.

magic of the season 2014

County volunteers will decorate dozens of trees and offer holiday cheer so families may enjoy a safe, community-oriented event. Members of the public may view the exciting decorations weekdays starting at 8 a.m. Live entertainment and holiday activities will be available weeknights between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Kuana Torres Kahele, Lehua Kalima, Henry Kapono, Cyril Pahinui, Darlene Ahuna, and Mark Yamanaka will be among the Nā Hōkū Hanohano award-winning performers joining local favorites, hula groups, and the Hawai‘i County Band to entertain audiences.

Kona’s inaugural event, A Holiday Family Affair, will take place on Friday, December 12 from 5 – 6:30 p.m. in the courtyard of the West Hawai‘i Civic Center.

holiday family affair

The program will consist of a pule by Kumu Keala Ching and performances by Ka Pā Hula Nā Wai Iwi Ola and the Kealakehe Intermediate School Chorus & ‘Ukulele Ensemble. Bring a towel or mat for seating on the courtyard lawn.

At both events, non-perishable food items will be accepted for the Hawai‘i Island Food Basket. Please kōkua. For more details on either event, please contact the Office of Mayor Billy Kenoi in Hilo at 961-8211 or Kona at 323-4444.

Puna Bus Routes Adjusted in Response to Lava

Starting Oct. 27, the bus stops fronting the Pāhoa 7-11, and at Pāhoa School will not be serviced by Hele-On. New stops have been established along Highway 130 and Highway 132 due to the Pāhoa Village Road closure because of the pending lava flows.

HPP Bus Picture

The Pāhoa-area bus stops will be as follows:

North Bound

  • Highway 132 at New Hope Church Sign
  • Highway 130 at Homestead Road (Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science)
  • Highway 130 at Pahoa Fire / Police Station

South Bound

  • Highway 130 at Malama Market
  • Highway 130 at Homestead Road (Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science)
  • Highway 132 across from the New Hope Church Sign

Riders should use the Pāhoa bus schedule, and refer to the column marked “Pāhoa” for times for north- and south-bound travel.

Please anticipate longer travel times due to additional traffic and construction related activities along Highway 130.  For further information, contact the Mass Transit Agency at 961-8343 or visit our website at


Lava Flow Update – Flow Advances About 300 Yards in About 6 Hours

The June 27th lava flow remains active. An HVO flight early in the afternoon yesterday found that the flow had advanced ~280 m (~300 yards) north since a Civil Defense flight just after sunrise that morning (a span of ~6 hours), and the flow front had reached a large crack marked on the topographic base map (but not visible from the air). There was no evidence that the flow was entering this crack, if it exists.

A steam plume as seen from my house near Pahoa High School.

A steam plume as seen from my house near Pahoa High School.

A Civil Defense overflight this morning found that the flow front had advanced an additional 370 meters (400 yards) since yesterday afternoon. This puts the tip of the flow at 14.0 km (8.7 miles) from the vent, measured in a straight line, and 1.1 km (0.7 miles) from the Forest Reserve boundary.

The actual length of the flow, measured along the lava tube axis (so that bends in the flow are considered) is 16.0 km (9.9 miles). The flow front is still in thick forest, creating smoke plumes as it engulfs trees and other vegetation, but fires are not spreading away from the flow.

Small breakouts also remain active closer to Puʻu ʻŌʻō, roughly midway along the length of the June 27th flow. None of these breakouts have been very vigorous recently, but are also producing smoke plumes a they creep into the adjacent forest.

TONIGHT – Hawaii County Civil Defense Meeting on Eruption and Lava Flow

Hawai’i County Civil Defense and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory will hold additional community meetings TONIGHT and Thursday, Sept. 11 to update residents on the lava flow in the Wao Kele O Puna area.

The briefings will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Pahoa High School Cafeteria.

Puna Power Restoration Update From HELCO

Crews continue to make progress on restoring power to customers affected by Tropical Storm Iselle. An estimated 6,800 – or about eight percent – of customers remain without power, down from an estimated 8,100 on Monday.

Today's update from HELCO

Today’s update from HELCO

“We understand many of our customers are still dealing with a very difficult situation. We are devoting every available resource to this effort. We have made progress and are committed to restoring power as quickly as possible,” said Darren Pai, Hawaii Electric Light spokesman.

Electrical line crews from West Hawaii have been redeployed to assist with the restoration. They joined a workforce that includes crews, equipment, and vehicles from East Hawaii, Oahu and Maui. Additional contracted crews include electrical line workers, construction crews to dig holes for new utility poles, and tree trimmers to clear fallen trees.

Collectively, these resources are allowing Hawaii Electric Light to maximize its efforts on restoring power in neighborhoods that are still without power.

Today, electrical line crews expect to make progress in the following areas: Hamakua, Upper Puna, Ainaloa, Hawaiian Beaches, and Hawaiian Paradise Park. Contracted crews will also be working in Leilani Estates and Nanawale. In addition, contracted tree trimming and construction crews are working to clear fallen trees, debris, and dig utility pole holes. This work is needed to prepare the area for electrical line crews to set new poles and repair fallen power lines and other damaged equipment. Restoration progress may be impacted by access to due storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.

Every community in the Puna district was impacted. There are pockets throughout the region where the damage is so severe that customers should be prepared for an extended outage. Although crews are making progress and restoration in many areas may be much faster, preliminary estimates indicate it could take up to three weeks to restore power to the areas with the most significant damage, and in some cases even longer. These estimates are still preliminary and actual restoration times for each location will depend on the extent of the damage.

As a safety precaution, customers should not handle or move any fallen or damaged utility equipment. Customers are also reminded not to approach any downed power lines, as they may have electricity running through them and can be dangerous. If you see someone injured by a downed power line, call 9-1-1 for assistance.

Hawaii Electric Light continues to operate its Customer Information Center at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches. An estimated 300 to 400 people visited the center when it opened on Monday. Company representatives will be on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage. Customers may bring their electronic devices and get them charged. A charging station will be available at the center. The center will remain open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as the restoration process continues.

Hawaii County Operations Limited as Hurricanes Iselle, Julio Approach

Hawai‘i County offices will close at noon tomorrow, August 7, and remain closed all day Friday, August 8, because of expected weather impacts from Hurricane Iselle and Hurricane Julio.
Hawaii County Logo

Essential employees whose work involves continuing crucial operations and services will remain on the job. These employees have been identified by their departments and are required to report to work.

Absentee walk-in voting will continue at four sites in Hawai‘i County from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday. Those voting sites are Aupuni Center in Hilo, the West Hawai‘i Civic Center, Waimea Community Center and Pahala Community Center.

To provide for everyone’s safety, the following county facilities have been closed:

  • All County Parks and Beach Parks will not open on Thursday and will remain closed until further notice.
  • All County Solid Waste Transfer Stations and both the Hilo and Puuanahulu Landfills will close at noon on Thursday.

All Hele-On buses are scheduled to operate as normal on Thursday and Friday. However, due to heavy rains and potential road closures, bus routes may be canceled with little or no notice. Please prepare for alternative transportation during this hurricane event. Delays are expected.

Senior Nutrition Programs and Elderly Recreation Program activities are canceled Thursday and Friday. Van service provided by Coordinated Services for the Elderly has been suspended for Thursday and Friday.

Residents are strongly encouraged to stay off roadways and travel as little as possible to avoid wind and flooding hazards.

Pāhoa District Park Project Groundbreaking to Be Held July 31

A public groundbreaking ceremony for the Pāhoa District Park project will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, July 31, at the park.

Pahoa Park Rendering

Join Mayor Billy Kenoi, County Council members Greggor Ilagan and Zendo Kern, Parks Director Clayton Honma, and other dignitaries as they signify the start of the biggest recreational project in Hawai‘i County history. The $22.3 million, yearlong construction project will more than double the size of Pāhoa Park and deliver increased recreational opportunities to one of Hawai‘i Island’s fastest-growing communities.

Refreshments and light pupu will be served.

Contractor Nan, Inc. is scheduled to start clearing and grading the site on August 4. During the following 12 months, it will construct a covered play court building, two lighted baseball fields, two multipurpose fields, one of which will be lighted for nighttime use, a keiki playground, concession building, new comfort station, accessible walkways, and ample parking areas.

Totaling more than 29 acres, the improvements will complement the park’s existing 15 acres of developed recreational facilities that include a 50-meter swimming pool, community center, senior center, and skate park.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 961-8311 or

County Assumes Management of Mauna Kea Recreation Area

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation assumed management of the Mauna Kea Recreation Area from the State of Hawai‘i  today and immediately commenced with extensive renovations.
Mauna Kea Recreation AreaCounty plumbers, electricians, tree trimmers, grounds crews and equipment operators started work today that will require closing parts of the park temporarily. When the work is completed, Mauna Kea Recreation Area will be a safe, inviting and pleasant stop for both residents and visitors to enjoy as they travel across the island.

The first improvements include lighting enhancements, removal of dead trees that posed a fire hazard, fumigation, and installation of new picnic areas. Upcoming renovations will include extensive landscaping work, improving and reopening the restrooms, improvements to the cabins, and paving the parking areas.

Temporary restrooms will be provided while the construction work is occurring. The public will be notified when Mauna Kea Recreation Area is reopened and camping reservations will be accepted for overnight use of the park’s cabins.

Located near the 34-mile marker of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, Mauna Kea Recreation Area offers spectacular views of both Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, convenient access to rare plants and wildlife, and miles of hiking trails.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105 or

County of Hawai‘i Law Raising the Age of Sale to 21 Years for All Tobacco Products – Takes Effect July 1, 2014

Last year the Hawai’i County Council unanimously approved a bill to raise the age of sale of tobacco products to 21. That measure, Hawai‘i County Ordinance 13-124, takes effect on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.

Signs Required at the Point of Sale:  The law requires that signs are to be posted at the point of sale. Signs where sent out to all registered tobacco retailers in May 2014. Signs are available at the Mayors Offices in East and West Hawaii or by contacting the East Hawaii Tobacco-Free Coalition Coordinator via email at

Signs Required at the Point of Sale: The law requires that signs are to be posted at the point of sale. Signs where sent out to all registered tobacco retailers in May 2014. Signs are available at the Mayors Offices in East and West Hawaii or by contacting the East Hawaii Tobacco-Free Coalition Coordinator via email at

The law prohibits the distribution of tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices, to underage customers born after June 30, 1996. Retailers need to be aware that anyone who is born after June 30, 1996 is prohibited from purchasing tobacco products or electronic smoking devices until they are 21 years of age.

There is an exemption in the new ordinance for people who reach the age of 18 before July 1, 2014. Those who reach the age of 18 before July 1, 2014 are allowed to continue to purchase tobacco. The purpose of the exemption is to ease the transition for people who already use tobacco, and for the retailers.

The Coalition For A Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i (CTFH) and staff from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids worked closely with West Hawai‘i Councilmember Dru Mamo Kanuha and his staff to pass this bill. Hawai‘i County Council unanimously passed Bill 135 on November 20, and Mayor Kenoi signed the legislation into law in December 2013.

The Coalition For A Tobacco-Free Hawaii applauds Hawai‘i County for standing strong on tobacco control. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (, “National data show that 95 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21.” The ages of 18 to 21 are a critical period when many smokers move from experimental smoking to regular, daily use. Increasing the tobacco sale age to 21 will help prevent young people from ever starting to smoke.

Hawai‘i County joins New York City and Needham and Canton, Massachusetts, in raising the age of sale on tobacco products to 21.  Four states—Utah, New Jersey, Alaska and Alabama—require tobacco buyers to be 19.  Several other counties and states, including Texas, are considering similar measures.

It is important for retailers and potential buyers to know these key points for the new law:

  • Any person who sells or distributes tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices, to an underage customer will be subject to a fine of up to $2,000.
  • Persons, retailers, and employees that sell or distribute tobacco products must verify proof of age of the recipient/purchaser.
  • Sale is prohibited to persons born after June 30, 1996.
  • Valid identification includes: state driver’s license, state identification card, military ID, or passport.
  • Signs are required to be posted at every point of sale.
  • From July 1, 2014 – July 30, 2017, persons who sell or display tobacco products shall post signs clearly and keep them posted at the place of business at each point of sale.
  • Failure to post this sign shall be subject to a fine of up to $500.

Signs were sent to all registered tobacco retailers in May 2014. Additional signs are available at the Mayor’s Offices in East and West Hawai‘i or by contacting the East Hawai‘i Tobacco-Free Coalition Coordinator via email at

For more information please visit the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i website at:

Keiki Volleyball Players Sought for Hilo Teams

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation invites keiki to sign up for youth volleyball programs offered at Hilo’s Waiākea-Uka Gymnasium.

HI PAL Volleyball players

HI PAL Volleyball players

Boys 7 to 14 years old and girls 7 to 10 years old can play in the Department of Parks and Recreation’s youth volleyball league that starts in September.

Registration opens July 22 at Waiākea-Uka Gymnasium. Space is limited to two teams. A modest fee will be collected to pay for uniforms, awards and other program expenses.

To register or learn more about the upcoming keiki volleyball programs at Waiākea-Uka Gymnasium, please call Coach Mark Osorio at 959-9474.

Operating Hours at Big Island HI5 Redemption Sites to Change

Effective July 1, 2014, the hours of operation at all ten (10) HI-5 Certified Redemption Centers at Hawai‘i County recycling and transfer stations will change.

Please see the new schedule of days and hours below:Transfer DaysAll sites will remain open from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM. For the convenience of the public, all sites will remain open during this time, and will not close for lunch.

Due to site preparations for transition for a new contract to operate the redemption centers, all ten (10) County HI-5 Certified Redemption centers will be closed for two (2) days on Monday, June 30, 2014 and Tuesday, July 1, 2014.  Additionally, all ten (10) County HI-5 Certified Redemption Centers will be closed Friday, July 4, 2014 in observance of the holiday.

The Department of Environmental Management thanks the public for your cooperation and understanding as we work with our contractors to make the HI-5 program as convenient as possible.

For more information or copies of the new schedule, please visit or contact Chris Thayer at

2014 Summer Fun Programs Announced on the Big Island

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation is announcing the 2014 Summer Fun Program.

Fun program will start on June 9, 2014 at the following location and hours:

summer fun

For safety reasons, use of the facilities will be limited to Summer Fun participants during program hours.

If you are interested in registering a child please call 961-8740 or 938-2012 to find out which sites are available. Program guides can also be found at

Malama O’oma Day

ooma day

Free Household Hazardous Waste Collection Offered

Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection events will occur between 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., as follows:

  • Saturday, June 7, 2014 at the Hilo Recycling and Transfer Station.
  • Saturday, June 14, 2014 at the Kailua-Kona (Kealakehe) Recycling and Transfer Station.

These events are for household generated and self-hauled waste only.  Business, government agency, non-profit agency or farm wastes are not allowed.  NO electronic waste will be accepted.


The County of Hawai‘i Department of Environmental Management holds these regular collection events so households can conveniently dispose of acceptable HHW in a manner that protects both public health and the environment.  Some types of acceptable HHW are automotive fluids, used batteries, fluorescent lights and pesticides.  Latex paint will be accepted at the Hilo & Kona events for reuse.  For a more complete list of acceptable or unacceptable HHW, please visit our website The website includes other useful information on solid waste diversion and recycling.

If you are unable to attend the events described above, the next scheduled HHW Collection Events will be on December 6, 2014 in Hilo and December 13, 2014 in Kailua-Kona (Kealakehe).

Please direct your comments or questions regarding these HHW Collection Events to Chris Chin-Chance, Recycling Specialist with the Department of Environmental Management at 961-8554 or email to

Department of Health Cites Hawaii County for Solid Waste Permit Violations

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has filed two Notices and Findings of Violation and Order against the County of Hawaii for solid waste permit violations occurring at the South Hilo and West Hawaii sanitary landfills.

Hawaii Department of Health

During compliance inspections conducted on May 23 and 24, 2013, at the South Hilo Sanitary Landfill located off Leilani Road in Hilo, DOH found that the county failed to cover disposed solid waste with daily or intermediate cover for approximately 28 days. These violations occurred between Jan. 1 and May 31, 2013, and over many areas of the landfill including closed and active disposal areas.

In addition, the county failed to monitor groundwater quality for at least one sampling event, failed to monitor for explosive gas along the perimeter of the landfill for two consecutive quarters between September 2012 and June 2013, and failed to ban and remove whole tires from the active disposal area. DOH has ordered the County of Hawaii to correct the violations and pay an administrative penalty of $328,190. The county has requested a hearing to contest the allegations and order.

During a March 5, 2014, inspection of the West Hawaii Landfill located at 71-1111 Queen Kaahumanu Hwy. in Puuanahulu, North Kona, DOH discovered unpermitted storage of approximately 800-1,000 tons of scrap metal and appliances. DOH has imposed a penalty of $21,900, and ordered the county to cease accepting and accumulating scrap metal and white goods and remove and dispose of all accumulated scrap metal and white goods. The County of Hawaii may request a hearing to contest these allegations or the order.

The DOH Solid Waste Section regulates standards governing the design, construction, installation, operation and maintenance of solid waste disposal, recycling, reclamation and transfer systems. Such standards are intended to prevent pollution of the drinking water supply or waters of the state, prevent air pollution, prevent the spread of disease and the creation of nuisances, protect the public health and safety, conserve natural resources, and preserve and enhance the beauty and quality of the environment.

UH Hilo and County of Hawaiʻi Offer Sustainable Farming Forum

The College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (CAFNRM) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and the County of Hawaiʻi will host a free public forum on “Building Momentum Toward a Resilient and Sustainable Local Farming Culture” on Thursday, May 22, 9-4:30 p.m., in UH Hilo’s UCB Room 100. The forum aims to share collective knowledge and brainstorm ideas about the future of Hawaiʻi Island agriculture, beginning with how to improve soil health.

UH Hilo Moniker

Dr. Hector Valenzuela of the UH Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) and Dr. Norman Arancon of CAFNRM will be the lead presenters with discussion facilitation by Interim CAFNRM Dean Bruce Mathews and County Councilwoman Margaret Wille, chair of the County Council’s Committee on Agriculture, Water, Energy, and Sustainability.

Morning presentations and panel discussions focus on eco-friendly agro-ecological models, integrated crop-livestock systems and feed options, improving soil health, and increasing economical options for high quality compost. The afternoon sessions includes a discussion on red fire ant control strategies and facilitated breakout sessions to follow up on the morning topics.

For further information, call CAFNRM at 932-7036.

Mayor Kenoi Submits Proposed Operating Budget for the County of Hawai‘i for 2014-2015 to Hawai’i County Council

Hawaii County Logo

Aloha Chair Yoshimoto and Council Members:

As required by the Hawai‘i County Charter, submitted with this message is the proposed operating budget for the County of Hawai‘i for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. This balanced budget includes estimated revenues and appropriations of $416,915,831, and includes the operations of eleven of the county’s special funds as well as the general fund.

This FY 2014-2015 budget is $13,710,833 or 3.4 percent larger than the budget in effect when this administration took office in 2008. This budget continues our strategic investments in county services and infrastructure to support our working families and businesses, while carefully controlling the cost of government.

We continue to see a gradual recovery from the past five years of budget challenges caused by the national and international recession. We are finally experiencing a measured recovery in property values, which allows us to address the new challenge of $20.9 million in additional employee expenses in the year ahead. Most of these costs are the result of public worker arbitration decisions and negotiated agreements that significantly increase salaries, wages, social security contributions and retirement obligations.

A coordinated effort by the Hawai‘i State Association of Counties and Hawai‘i Conference of Mayors this year helped to convince the state Legislature to allocate additional hotel room tax funding to the counties, and we welcome this assistance. This revised budget commits all of that additional funding to pay for future health care obligations for public employees.

This proposed balanced budget does not require any increase in property taxes.

Investing In Our CommunitiesFrom the beginning of this administration, we have developed budgets that limit spending, but also allow for targeted investment in our communities and our future. Through carefully selected initiatives we created or improved parks and playgrounds, built or rebuilt roads and other public infrastructure, and improved public services. Our primary objective has always been to make the County of Hawai‘i a better place for our families to live and work.We have used the county’s borrowing power and excellent credit rating to help stimulate the economy and create jobs during a period of low interest rates and favorable bid prices. In Kona, we answered residents’ calls for relief from traffic congestion by advancing projects such as the La‘aloa Avenue Extension, the Ka‘iminani Drive Reconstruction and the Ane Keohokālole Highway, and we will soon begin work on the Māmalahoa Bypass.  In Hilo, we are repairing downtown streets starting with the Kīlauea Avenue Reconstruction, followed by the Kamehameha Avenue Reconstruction project. We will continue in the months ahead with repairs and improvements to Ponahawai and Komohana Streets.

We have partnered with the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, which has emerged as a critical component of our economy. Our university allows our young people to achieve better lives for themselves while providing a skilled workforce to help our island economy to grow and innovate. To help the university expand, we are advancing the Kapi‘olani Street Extension to open up lands for new student housing, additional classroom space, and to alleviate traffic congestion.

We are investing in parks, gyms, and playgrounds across the island where our families can engage in positive activities, and where our coaches can teach our youth respect, discipline, and teamwork. We opened covered play courts at Pana‘ewa Park in Hilo, and built the Kamakoa Nui Park in Waikoloa. We have added seven playgrounds islandwide, and will soon be opening the new Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter. We renovated popular recreational facilities such as the Waiākea Recreation Center, Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium, Laupāhoehoe Pool, Kēōkea Beach Park, and Pāhoa Pool. We will soon make the largest investment in recreation in the history of the county by constructing district parks in Pāhoa, Waimea and Kona.

Despite the budget challenges of recent years, we continue to invest in alternative energy and agriculture because we understand those sectors are essential for a sustainable economy. We installed solar arrays on county buildings to reduce oil consumption and utility costs, and will use wind power at Lālāmilo to provide clean energy to supply water to our communities. We are encouraging growth in agriculture by investing in training and support for farmers, and provided 1,739 acres of county-owned lands for ranching and community-based agriculture at the Kapulena Agricultural Park. We joined in a public-private partnership to upgrade the Pa‘auilo Slaughterhouse and provide a new rendering facility to support our grass-fed beef industry.

At the same time, we have preserved funding for public safety and essential core services. We funded additional police officers for the Puna and Ka‘ū communities, and opened the new Makalei Fire Station. We protected funding for nutrition, recreation and other services for seniors, and preserved and expanded programs for our children and youth. We maintained county funding to non-profit organizations serving the people most in need in our communities.

Fewer Employees, Growing Costs

We want to thank our county workers for their efforts during the Great Recession, which was a time when people across our island made sacrifices. Many of our employees accepted furloughs even as overtime was cut and staffing levels in county agencies were reduced because of hiring restrictions. County employees’ workloads increased, but their hard work and dedication allowed us to continue to deliver essential county services and protect public safety.

During these many challenging budget years, the size of the county workforce declined from 2,787 in November 2008, to a total of 2,632 more than five years later.

Even with that smaller workforce, the new negotiated collective bargaining agreements will significantly increase our employee costs in the year ahead. Wages, salaries and fringe benefits including health care and retirement for all of our employees will increase in all departments by a total of $20.9 million in Fiscal Year 2014-2015, with most of that increase attributable to these new agreements.

County of Hawai‘i tax collections in the year ahead will be $8.24 million or 3.6 percent more than the amount of property taxes collected when this administration began in 2008. However, the combined cost of employee wages, fringe benefits and health care expenses has grown by
$31.1 million or 17.3 percent during the same period.

This year the Hawai‘i State Legislature agreed to raise the cap on the amount of transient accommodations tax that is distributed to the counties, and the new hotel tax allocation will provide an additional $1.86 million to the County of Hawai‘i. This revised budget adopts the fiscally responsible strategy of investing that entire amount into pre-funding future employee health benefits, also known as GASB 45. That allows the county to increase its contribution to GASB 45 to $6.09 million for Fiscal Year 2014-2015, which is nearly double the contribution budgeted for the current fiscal year.

Significant Changes to February 28, 2014 Revenue Estimates

General Fund

  • Real Property Tax – Revenue projections have increased by $1,700,000, as the result of upward valuation adjustments and a reduction in the tax appeal allowance.
  • State Grant in Aid – As the result of state legislative action, the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) allocation to Hawai‘i County increased by $1,860,000.
  • Fund Balance Carryover – Carryover projections have increased by $770,000, which represents an increase in current year expenditure savings as a result of restrictions on hiring, travel, equipment and other spending.

Solid Waste Fund

  • Beverage Container Deposit Program – Revenue was reduced by $217,307 to reflect the revised grant amount from the Department of Health.
  • Transfer from General Fund – An increase to general fund transfer was included to provide additional revenue of $412,742 to meet the critical operational needs of the Solid Waste Division.

Significant Changes to February 28, 2014 Expenditure Estimates

General Fund

  • Police – Funding from the Hawai‘i Impact Grant is expected to increase by $129,000.  Additionally, funding is included for community safety programs.
  • Fire – Funding was increased by $320,000 in the Ocean Safety Division, for salaries, equipment and miscellaneous costs to support a pilot jet ski program.
  • Prosecuting Attorney – Additional staffing was provided to meet the increased demand and workload placed on office staff by changes in judiciary requirements, increasing the budget by about $186,000.
  • Parks & Recreation – Funding of approximately $180,000 was provided for staffing to accommodate increased parks maintenance responsibilities related to new facilities and to respond to increased use of existing facilities.
  • Transfer to Solid Waste – Subsidy to the fund has been increased by $412,742 to support additional recycling program needs and solid waste operations.
  • Transfer to Debt Service – Budget was increased by $291,793 based on anticipated activity on State Revolving Fund (SRF) funded projects.
  • Post-employment Benefits – Funding in the amount of $1,860,000 was added in the expectation of making a larger contribution toward the County’s unfunded future health benefits liability (GASB 45).

Solid Waste Fund

  • Solid Waste – The recycling program appropriation decreased $217,307 due to a reduction in the Beverage Container Deposit Program grant funding, and costs increased in glass recycling and organic recycling by $202,000.  Funding for cover material at the Hilo Landfill increased by $132,000 to ensure state Department of Health requirements are met.

Position Changes from February 28, 2014 Budget Proposal

This amended budget proposes 10 new positions and an increased time element for one position.

Department Position Title
Information Technology Information Systems Analyst III
Fire – Ocean Safety Water Safety Officer II (4)
Prosecuting Attorney Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
Prosecuting Attorney Legal Clerk III (2)
Prosecuting Attorney Legal Clerk I
Parks and Recreation Park Caretaker I
Parks and Recreation Park Caretaker I (1/2 to Full Time)


This proposed budget represents a collaborative effort by our departments to address the growing needs of our growing population in a way that is both responsive and fiscally responsible. Our years of careful planning and conservative budgeting have positioned us to invest in our communities while maintaining core services and meeting our obligations to our employees.

The recent, modest gains in property values point to a gradual economic recovery, and we remain cautiously optimistic that the economic and budget outlook will continue to improve. We believe our efforts to promote renewable energy, agriculture and higher education are an investment in the future of our island. We will continue to invest in recreational projects to support our youth and families and to protect public safety, and we ask for your support in these efforts.

We look forward to working closely with the County Council to address our community’s new and continuing demands for public services while also maintaining a balanced and responsible budget.


William P. Kenoi

Public Invited to Discussion on Water System Plans for Upper Puna

The Department of Water Supply Manager-Chief Engineer, Quirino Antonio, Jr. together with his Engineering Staff will present the water system plans for upper Puna at the next meeting of the Mountain View Village Planning Committee.

Quirino Antonio, Jr

Quirino Antonio, Jr

Please join us on May 8, 2014, 6:00 p.m., in the Cafeteria of the Mountain View Elementary School. Everyone is invited to attend.