Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim will remain in Hilo Medical Center at least another day.
The 78-year-old mayor has been hospitalized since Saturday after suffering his sixth heart attack.
“The doctor’s going to determine tomorrow if he gets out of the hospital, but he’s already called a meeting to talk about major cuts in the budget,” Janet Snyder, the mayor’s spokeswoman said Wednesday morning at Hawaii County Civil Defense headquarters in Hilo.
“The fact that the (general excise tax surcharge) failed is going to have major ramifications with the county,” Snyder said, referring to a 5-4 vote Tuesday by the County Council against a quarter-percent temporary surcharge on the GET through 2020. “These cuts, we’re looking at five- to six-million” dollars.
The county has estimated the budgetary shortfall because of a loss of property tax revenues in Puna, where lava from Kilauea volcano has destroyed more than 500 homes.
Kim’s meeting with department heads is scheduled for Thursday, Snyder said.
According to Snyder, Carmala Coley of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said at least 1,000 people have registered with FEMA at the Disaster Recovery Center in Keaau High School Gym.
Snyder said there is a misconception that those who lost their property need a letter from the county to register with FEMA.
“Residents who have been affected by the ongoing Puna eruption should register for individual assistance with FEMA regardless of whether they have a letter from the county stating their damages … stemming from the disaster,” she said. “FEMA does not require a letter from the county to register.”
The DRC is open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, seven days a week.
Tropic Care 2018 continues today with free medical, dental and eye care at Keaau High School between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. It’s open to the general public, not just those displaced by lava.
Snyder summed up Tuesday night’s public meeting at Pahoa High School, adding the major theme among those attending are “Where are we going to live?”
She said Roy Takemoto, executive assistant to Kim, told those assembled the county doesn’t yet have answers but a task force is working on the housing problem.
“He asked for any creative ideas anybody had” at Wednesday morning’s briefing, Snyder said. “The county’s trying to work out housing options with church groups and landowners and we are looking to design a new community.”
Snyder said Hawaii Volcano Observatory geophysicist Jim Kauahikaua reported at the morning briefing of emergency personnel that fissure No. 8 continues to vigorously pump out lava with a single ocean entry. Fissures 16 and 18 were oozing slowly as of this morning.
There was another summit eruption at Kilauea volcano at 2:24 a.m. Snyder said, with “energy equivalent to a 5.3 quake.”
Snyder said seismic energy is building again at the summit and there were at least 20 earthquakes overnight of at least 3.0 magnitude.
Winds are east-southeasterly and vog is blanketing Hilo today. Sulfur dioxide and Pele’s hair may be blown into Pahoa and perhaps as far inland as Hawaiian Acres.
The National Weather Service has forecast tradewinds to return on Thursday and they should remain through early next week.
There are public meetings on air quality today at Konawaena Elementary School in Kealakekua and tomorrow at Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School Cafeteria. Both meetings are at 5 p.m.
Snyder said there have been calls on social media for a public lava viewing area.
“It’s a proposal; it needs to be vetted by several departments and the public as to feasibility,” she said.
According to Snyder, Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno said, “We’re going to get it right the first time.”
She said there are no other details at this time.
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.