(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth gave a presentation to Hawaiʻi lawmakers on Monday, as per tradition every year when the legislative session begins.
Mayor Roth was one of four county presentations shared during the joint meeting of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and the House Finance Committee.
Much of the discussion during informational briefing centered on the ongoing response to, and recovery from, the devastating fires on Maui in August.
“The day of the fires in Maui, we also had fires,” Mayor Roth said, “so Hawaiʻi island is not immune to natural disasters.”
“Some of the things that we’re seeing that have become top of mind for our community are things like evacuation routes,” Roth said. “One of those is Waikoloa, where we have one of the largest cul-de-sacs in the United States. We are working with the community and a couple of other communities. It is a big issue on Hawaiʻi island.”
Roth told the lawmakers he is looking at opening another road in Waikoloa, and he will probably need some help from the state.
Roth also shared this slide showing the County’s operational priorities:
Roth reminded lawmakers that the Hilo Wastewater Treatment Plant “could be the next Red Hill, releasing millions of gallons out into the ocean if we don’t take care of it.”
“So we’ve been working on this for the last couple of years,” Mayor Roth said. “Its probably going to be our biggest spend.”
When one lawmaker asked about problems in staffing, Roth replied that “there’s not a lot of people that are applying for the County jobs.”
“On our island, we have hotels on that west side of the island that can take 100 employees, each hotel. Its difficult for us the compete with those hotels,” Roth said.
Mayor Roth said he and his cabinet are looking at ways to ease the requirements for obtaining certain County positions. “So, there’s a couple of different things that were looking at to see if we can bring people in,” the mayor said.