(BIVN) – Two weeks after the Hawaiʻi County Council first heard preliminary numbers from the Finance Department for the cost of providing assistance to the state on Mauna Kea, some additional numbers have been provided… and the total has gone way up.
The Hawaiʻi County administration now says the total costs are over $3.2 million, up from the $258,000 figure that was provided to the Council Finance Committee on August 6th.
The new total, revealed Tuesday evening, includes overtime for police ($3,065,124), which was not included in the first presentation.
“I was expecting a bump from our $268[k] that we had last last meeting,” said councilman Matt Kanealiʻi-Kleinfelder, “but here we are now at $3.2 million dollars. That is a big number.”
The $3 million in police overtime is cumulative, through July 31. The number does not include overtime pay accrued in August.
“The reason you’re seeing the big numbers is – from the onset, from the 17th – we went into 12-hour shifts, island-wide,” said Police Chief Paul Ferreira. “That is to ensure that there was adequate coverage, island-wide. While we still had a contingency of officers up on the mountain to be prepared to escort or provide support with the state law enforcement agencies in getting the equipment up to the mountain. In actuality, when we put their entire districts on 12-hour shifts, we actually increased staffing out in the field.”
“You’re gonna see the numbers drop after August 1st,” Chief Ferreira said. “It’s not gonna be as high as it is now and the reason for that is, as of July 28th, we reverted all the districts back to 8-hour shifts. Normal operating shifts. And the contingency on the mountain was reduced drastically. And that’s what we’re operating with now.”
“Has there been any movement by the AG’s office to start refunding us for, any of this?” Kanealiʻi-Kleinfelder asked.
“We’re in the process of submitting the bills,” said Finance Director Deanna Sako.
Council Finance Committee Chair Maile David discussed a communication from Governor David Ige, dated August 20, 2019, in response to inquiries regarding expenses relating to Mauna Kea.
The letter reads:
Dear Chair David, Vice Chair Richards, and Members of the Finance Committee:
In response to inquiries regarding expenses incurred by the Hawaiʻi County Police Department (“HCPD”) relating to the Thirty Meter Telescope project (“TMT”), the State of Hawaiʻi clarifies that in support of HCPD’s commitment to maintain control of its roadways and to provide current observatory facilities, their astronomers and TMT access to Maunakea, the State has agreed to reimburse HCPD for overtime costs related to this effort. The State also is paying for associated costs to deploy HCPD in furtherance of this objective, including food and water, equipment, portable waste facilities and solid waste collection.
The State will abide by this agreement to support HCPD’s enforcement efforts so long as HCPD remains committed to maintaining control of the pertinent roadways. HCPD is critical to ensuring the current astronomers and their support staff obtain access to Maunakea for purposes of continuing longstanding astronomical exploration, and to ensure TMT may engage in the lawfully permitted construction of its telescope.
Please contact Dana 0. Viola at 586-1292 if you need further clarification.
“What does that mean?” asked David, pointing to Governor Ige’s statement, “… so long as HCPD remains committed to maintaining control of the pertinent roadways.”
“I would take it to mean that we need to maintain what we currently are doing,” answered Chief Ferreira, “and committed to maintaining law and order up on the mountain, when necessary. And that we cannot just say – okay, we’re gonna put up our hands and we will turn a blind eye.”
“I’d like to see us spend three and a half million dollars towards projects in in our county,” Kanealiʻi-Kleinfelder said. “Whether it’s streets, parks, pools, you know you name it. More police officers. That’s where I’d like to see these funds going, not towards a very divisive project.”