(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi County Council Finance Committee got an eruption recovery update from Mayor Harry Kim on Tuesday, specifically on the Legislative Disaster Aid Funds recently allocated by the state of Hawaiʻi.
“I’m very grateful for all of the councils’ help in acquiring $60 million dollars from the state legislatures,” Mayor Kim told the council, speaking from the Hilo council chambers.
Kim said the $60 million “was not a slam dunk” – the administration initially planned to ask for hundreds of millions – but Kim said the primary use of the funds will be for the “starting and the completion” of Highway 132.
“I was just told within the week,” Mayor Kim said, “by Public Works, that surveying on that Highway 132 is completed. And we can start on ground surveying. We had estimated that highway alone will cost us approximately $40 million.”
The mayor hopes the County will qualify for a 100 percent reimbursement from the federal government, but they will have to finish by the first week of October.
“The second use of that money,” Kim said, for which “we hope to have at least 75 percent reimbursement, is what we call this Pohoiki Road.”
“Pohoiki Road, as you know, is a County Road. The reimbursement is, I think, maximum 75 percent,” Kim said. “Our estimate of that road will be approximately $30 million dollars. And we hope to start that surveying in those things as soon as we get well underway on Highway 132.”
In regards to the rest of the monies, Kim said, “there’s a number of people – in Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland – that are people are not really interested in any of the specific type of housing program. These are people that had a lot of them on percentage were involved in short-term rentals.”
Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland “both accounted for approximately 400 to 500 of the structures that were destroyed,” Kim said, “of that I would estimate at least 50 percent were vacation rentals.”
Kim said FEMA said quite clearly “no private entity or private subdivisions will be eligible for any federal grants. In short, we had to give the bad news to places like Kapoho Beach Lots and some members of Vacationland, which were the two major subdivisions, that their organizations would have to foot the bill” of the expenses on roads, on water, and on private surveys for their lots.
“So you can see how this is really gonna change the tone on what is going to be developed or pursued in those private areas,” Kim said. “As far as the other type of programs that are going to be pursued, it will be heavily dependent on what the surveys will show on what the needs of the residents are.”