Mayor Charmaine Tavares, along with Councilmember Danny Mateo, met with the Molokai community on September 13 to discuss the 2009 budget. The heads of each county department were also present and listened to the financial needs of island residents.
“This is how our administration wants to be, we want to be close to the people,” said Tavares.
Community members expressed gratitude for the county funded programs on Molokai and asked for continued backing. Among the programs that stood out was the youth center, the Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO) transportation system and the Kuha`o Business Center.
Kealoha Leamoa, young member of the Independent Living Council, commended the MEO transportation system. She uses the system on a daily basis for transportation to work, school and for personal errands.
Several kupuna also testified that they greatly relied upon the transportation services by Maui.
Zessica Apiki, the Molokai branch director of MEO, said the bus route shuttles students from schools to the youth center and library, offers special services for disabled individuals and services the rural areas. According to Apiki MEO Molokai currently is receiving all the funding necessary.
“It’s good because this year we can come to the county and say thank you. It’s really gratifying,” she said.
The Kuha`o Business Center (KBC) also received accolades from various community members receiving assistance from the center. Tessie Juario, a representative of KBC, said the center has provided services to over 2000 people in during the 2007 fiscal year. KBC aids individuals in starting small businesses through offering classes, micro loans and various other resources.
West end residents asked the Mayor to support plans to build a fire station on the county property located on the corner of Maunaloa Hwy and Kalua Koi Rd. Residents were concerned not only about the fire hazards, but the danger to swimmers at area beaches. Kevin Donnelly said the need for rescue personnel on the West end is critical and asked for funding through the county’s community improvement project.
Islanders also asked for increased funding for various other needs. Lori Buchanan of the Maui Invasive Species Committee requested $50,000 in funding to provide a zoning and enforcement officer just for Molokai. Larry Helm of Molokai Veterans Caring for Veterans asked for the financial backing to build a veterans center on its property in Kaunakakai.
Councilmember Mateo posed a list of matters in need of attention on Molokai. The list included more cemetery space as the Kapa`akea is full, a public works base yard, county parks and playgrounds and finally making improvements to Pano and Paili Place.
Molokai residents who were not able to make it to the meeting can still submit their appeals for the 2009 fiscal year to Maui County before Sept. 30, 2007.