Video by David Corrigan
HILO, Hawaii – A planned revision to the county code that would create “sewer improvement districts” has piqued the curiosity of Hamakua Councilman and Hawaii County Council Chair Dominic Yagong.
Bill 55, passed through the council Finance Committee on Tuesday, would amend sections of the Hawaii County Code dealing with the Big Island’s improvement districts. The bill mostly changes around wording and clarifies departmental responsibilities, but it also ads a new paragraph (Chapter 12 Article 1, Section 12-1):
“Sewer system improvement district” means an improvement district in which the improvements to be made are exclusively those to construct a sewer system or upgrade an existing sewer system, including the restoration of roadways or other facilities incidental to such construction or upgrading.
Yagong, who has seen small towns and villages in his district make the Environmental Protection Agency mandated switch from large capacity cesspools to sewer lines, wondered if the benefits of the designation could be extended to include the costly connection that enables private homes and businesses to plug in to the sewer lines once they are installed.
Yagong said that many of the private entities cannot afford the cost to tap into the new sewer systems. However, they must still pay the assessments levied to fund the sewer line construction.
The county administration explained that it does not appear as if the sewer improvement district can legally cover the connection fees for privately owned structures.