HILO, Hawaii – Hilo councilman Aaron Chung made headlines recently for his public lamentation over a vote to approve a $99.75 million bond in 2015.
The administration of Billy Kenoi requested the bond float to fund a number of projects around the island, many falling under the Department of Parks and Recreation.
“Probably the worst decision I made over ten years on the council,” Chung said bluntly during the Finance Committee meeting on November 15. “And the reason for that is, it was the timing.”
“You never, ever are supposed to float a huge bond when the construction is going up because the prices are going to be high,” Chung added. “You have to do it on a down economy, so you can fill in the gaps for the jobs that are going to be lost when when you do go down. That’s one of the main purposes of a bond issuance. The timing was really bad.”
The council has been getting an earful from residents opposed to the Kukuihaele Park project, but some of the local lawmakers have their own concerns about overtime and cost overruns.
Margaret Wille has been especially vocal in recent weeks.
“It’s just that’s the way this administration has run,” Wille said of how how mayor’s team has handled the projects tied to the bond. “You know, the King decides. And you can see that all across the board.”
Mayor Kenoi terms out of office in December, at which point mayor-elect Harry Kim returns to office.