Molokai’s Budget Needs Heard

County says it trying to do more with less.

By Catherine Cluett

The Molokai community had the undivided attention of Maui County Council members last Tuesday night for a community budget meeting held for Molokai residents to voice budget requests to the county for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

The County Council heard requests from such organizations as the Humane Society, Head Start, Molokai Veterans, Molokai Chamber of Commerce, Home Pumehana, Molokai Planning Commission, and a variety of Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO)’s programs on the island including drug rehabilitation, sober housing facilities, and youth programs.

Many speakers voiced thanks to the Council for its support of the community. County Council Chair and Molokai Representative Danny Mateo expressed his gratification at seeing Molokai taking steps in the right direction. He added that core services, such as Fire and Police services, are a priority.

Other priorities include providing bathrooms and parking at Morris Point, planning and design updates of the Molokai Education Center campus, and modernization and updates of Molokai’s county offices.

Mayor Charmaine Tavares spoke about the difficult economic period facing both Molokai and the United States, and the strain that such burdens put on County budget decisions. She said even increases like property taxes directly affect the ability to obtain budget grants from outside the county.

“We are trying to do more with less,” explained Mayor Tavares, “and we have to prioritize the needs of the county. This means we will only be able to fund the community’s greatest needs, and we ask you to keep that in mind.”

County Council members present at the meeting were Mayor Charmaine Tavares, Budget Director Fred Pablo, Council Vice-Chair Danny Mateo, Communications Director Mahina Martin, Environmental Management Director Cheryl Okuma, Director of Finance Kalbert young, Fire and Public Safety Chief Jeffery Murray, Assistant Police Chief Wayne Ribao, Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Zack Helm, Public Works Director Milton Arakawa, Transportation Director Don Medeiros, and Community Development Block Grant program Coordinator Carol Gentz.

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