Big Island road projects cut after Hurricane Lane expenses
HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Big Island officials have delayed two road projects and a bus route expansion following the expenses created by Hurricane Lane.
The Hawaii County Council approved a revised budget Wednesday, reallocating the $10 million expected next year from the new surcharge on the state general excise tax, West Hawaii Today reported .
The county moved around money to put more into the capital projects fund that will be used to repair county facilities damaged by the hurricane last month.
Officials removed from the immediate budget the $1.5 million funding two Kona road projects and the $1.6 million expansion of Hele-On bus routes, which included a Hilo-Kona express line.
The council had voted for the tax increase with the understanding that it would fund specific projects, Kona Councilman Dru Kanuha said
“GET money needed to recover from this past natural disaster is understandable, but I hope it doesn’t take away from the high priority items such as Ane Keohokalole Highway and Oneo Lane, which have been high priority for a long time,” Kanuha said.
Repairing the roads and bridges damaged by heavy rain on the eastern side of Hawaii will cost more than $35 million, Finance Director Deanna Sako said. The storm produced about 50 inches (127 centimeters) of rain over a four-day period last month.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to reimburse 75 percent of the hurricane expenses, but the county is required to fund the remaining 25 percent, Sako said.
Depending on when the county receives the FEMA funding, the money might be available to start the Kona road projects sooner, Sako said.
Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com