As county projects budget shrinks, Ane K extension still likely slated for 2020

  • Vehicles make there way through Ane Keohokalole Highway's terminus at Hina Lani Street in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

The pace of public projects has slowed as the county nears its prudent borrowing limits and seeks other revenue sources to build needed roads, wastewater systems, workforce housing and fire stations.

Mayor Harry Kim’s capital improvement budget released last week listed 39 projects costing $190.9 million next year. That’s a significant decrease from the 85 projects costing $231.9 million in the 2013 budget released by former Mayor Billy Kenoi.

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The county’s bond debt ratio, based on all debt approved by the County Council, is at 12.43 percent of general expenditures, close to the 15 percent ceiling recommended by the Government Finance Officers Association.

Kim and a minority of council members are recommending the county adopt a half-cent general excise tax surcharge to help fund road and transit projects.

Currently, all of the money collected in general excise taxes goes into state coffers.

Even with an $8.8 million boost next year from a fuel tax increase, Kim said in his budget message, “there is still not enough to allow us to do the larger road projects that are also needed, such as the Ane Keohokalole extension to Kaiminani Drive.”

That doesn’t mean the project is postponed, said Aaron Stene, a former blogger who keeps close track of Big Island road projects. Stene pointed to an April 6, 2017, presentation about road projects posted on the Department of Public Works website that estimates a notice to proceed on a shovel-ready project is planned for December 2020.

“Bear in mind the county wasn’t planning on starting construction until 2020,” Stene said.

The project to extend the major thoroughfare from Hina Lani Street to Kaiminani Drive is estimated at $40 million. It’s a community priority and one of the top road projects endorsed by the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce.

But the road extension isn’t listed in the county’s six-year capital improvement budget. Two other West Hawaii road projects — Henry Street reconstruction and Oneo Lane — are listed in the 2018-24 plan, as well as two East Hawaii projects — Puhala Street extension and 4-Mile Creek Bridge replacement.

Although the Ane Keohokalole extension isn’t listed in the six-year CIP, a contract for an archaeological study is in process and soon to be executed, said Public Works spokesman Barett Otani.

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He said the project is not yet in the design or engineering stage.

Materials provided by the Kim administration in support of the GET surcharge say the money could enable the county to “fast-track” the project.

  1. Rusty Da Clown March 11, 2018 6:51 am

    Let’s not forget that the CIP budget is only a wish list. What has Harry Kim actually done since taking office?

    – stopped the compost facility, sending more trash to the landfill
    – re-dedicated Mauna Kea Park which was already open (still waiting on the cabins, which are done)
    – dedicated Haihai Fire Station which Mayor Kenoi built
    – dedicated a shipping container/re-use store

    Harry Kim is in his second year. He can’t act like he’s still learning how to be mayor, he was mayor before. He keeps raising taxes, and what do we get? Not much.


    1. Scooby March 11, 2018 7:31 am

      You are correct, most CIP projects have been on the books for years and get re-appropriated at the departments request. Submitting a reduced CIP project budget means nothing in the grand scheme of things. Unless funding is identified and “allotted” the fact that you have a project with “appropriated” stamp means better luck in two years. What the writer of this article fails to point out is the Mayor picks the projects he wants funded, unless its mandated projects such as large capacity cesspools or ADA compliance issues. It does not mean 190 mill will be spent on CIP projects, and another fact that was not pointed out is last years CIP projects are still on the books so that number should be significantly higher.


  2. Benny HaHa March 11, 2018 10:35 am

    Love the caption to the photo. “vehicles make there way through…”


  3. burned_out March 11, 2018 3:37 pm

    What is the number one job of our local government? Public safety, meaning the fire department. Cops don’t protect anybody, it is not their job, they are just here to clean up messes and make money for the state.
    What is the number two job of the county? Housing permitting and zoning control, I don’t know. It is supposed to be my land, not the governments. Perhaps they could quit spending our money and cut back, to what is really important. Perhaps they should take control of our island back from Oahu. That might be worth some extra taxes.


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