(BIVN) – A sewer rate hike is on the horizon for Hawaiʻi Island.
On November 19, the Hawaiʻi County Council Finance Committee voted to refer Bill 210 to the Environmental Management Commission. According to the description of Bill 210, the proposal:
Increases sewer fees incrementally on March 1 for three years beginning in 2019, as follows: Single Unit Residential: $12, $7, and $6; Multi-Unit Residential: $12, $7, and $6; Nonresidential: $17, $9, and $6; Private Haulers: $15, $10, and $5; and Gang Cesspools: $0, $6, and $3. The Department of Environmental Management requests these increases to eliminate the need for the General Fund subsidy and increase funding for facility repairs.
Environmental Management Director Bill Kucharski presented the details of the proposal.
Kucharski said the County is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “to have what they call a sustainable operation for our sewer system. That means it’s supposed to pay for itself.”
Mayor Harry Kim testified from Hilo. “It seems like in this very short time, coming to the County Council so many different times for either tax increase, or rate increase,” the mayor said. “As you know – in the fuel tax statement was made then at the time that no fuel tax increase was made for 30 years – and so this council is
presented with a very difficult task always of trying to play a little catch-up.”
“This fuel tax rate increase is exactly the same issue,” Mayor Kim said. “There has been no… civil rate increases since the year 2002.”
“The gang cesspool in Naʻalehu has been illegal since 2005,” testified Kaʻū resident Jerry Warren, “and Harry Kim told homeowners that we would be getting a bill after we got a new sewer. Now he is charging us. How can you bill for an illegal service and a broken promise? And here’s the broken promise – I hope you have this, it’s a letter dated 2007,” said Warren holding up a piece of paper. “Here’s – at the top, Harry Kim, mayor – and then in the body of the letter said it would appear that the construction start date is estimated to be July 2009. That’s before – if they would have started this and we’d be getting bills for a legal sewer. But, a broken promise.”
“How can you bill people for this?” Warren asked. “And if you can’t answer that question then you should reduce the gang cesspool fees to zero.”
The Environmental Management Commission will discuss Bill 210 during its November 28 meeting at the West Hawaiʻi Civic Center in Kona.