Bill would establish guidelines for distribution of disaster funds

  • Ashley Kierkiewicz

A County Council committee will hear a bill today that will determine how to disburse millions of dollars of Kilauea eruption recovery funds.

The bill would establish a framework for awarding Kilauea disaster relief funds received by the county as grants to eligible nonprofits, codifying the process into law for the purpose of clarity, said the bill’s introducer, Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz.

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“It’s not sexy, but it is important,” Kierkiewicz said.

The councilwoman said the proposed process would be very similar to the county’s existing grant-in-aid program, but would place a greater emphasis on stated goals and objectives before awarding funds. According to the text of the bill, the county would determine grantees based on, among other things, detailed budgets submitted by the applicants, and whether the applicants have sufficient fiscal controls to manage the funds.

Based on the proposed process, grants would range from $25,000 to no more than $500,000.

Kierkiewicz said enshrining the process in law is important to manage a $20 million recovery appropriation approved by the state Legislature last year.

“Nothing in our code really explains how to handle that kind of money, so it’s important to establish the process just so we can be absolutely clear,” Kierkiewicz said.

Kierkiewicz added that, assuming the bill meets little resistance and passes second reading in the full council in April, the full process can be finalized and posted on the county website as soon as it becomes law.

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“We don’t want the community to have to wait any longer,” Kierkiewicz said.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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