(BIVN) – The Hawai’i County Council is in the process of accepting $170,355 in monetary donations for eruption disaster relief.
Most of the money is coming from Puna Geothermal Venture ($150,000). The remainder comes from Tokyoto Oshimamachi ($18,274.22), Saishoin Temple ($2,000), and Sister City Mayor Inoue ($80.44). According to the council resolution accepting the money, the funds would be used to help offset costs incurred relating to the 2018 lava disaster in the lower Puna region.
According to Mayor Harry Kim, the Puna Geothermal Venture donation “had no strings to [the donation] except one. The owners of PGV came to all of us and just wanted to be assured that that money would be spent for the good of the people.”
“That’s $150,000. That’s a lot,” Mayor Kim said during a January 8 council committee meeting. “But that won’t even pay for one foot” of a reconstructed road.
In order to accept the donations, the council must pass a resolution and then appropriate the revenue with a bill. During a January 22 council Finance Committee meeting in Kona, the council began the process.
“It’s very clear that temporary roads are a priority,” said Puna councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz during the meeting. “I’m just wondering: we’re sitting on these huge pots of money. When are we going to start spending it and providing relief to constituents?”
Administration officials confirmed the donations haven’t been earmarked for anything yet. Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy wondered if maybe the money could be put into a separate account that could be handled by the Puna council representatives.
“Can some of this money be allocated to our contingency funds so we can work directly with the community to spend this money?” Kierkiewicz wondered. “Maybe we should take it to the mayor and see if he is open to that.”
The Finance Committee advanced Resolution 30-19 and Bill 12 to the full council with positive recommendations.