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Sep 04

Press Release: Council calls for immediate solutions to landfill hours and holiday trash pick-up

Posted on September 4, 2014 at 9:31 AM by Troy Hashimoto

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawai‘i -- Budget and Finance Committee members called for the Arakawa administration to step-up, show leadership and solve the problem of holiday trash pick-up and the reduction in landfill hours.

“The impact on residents trash pick-up and access to landfill hours was caused by the administration, and in the short-term, can be easily fixed by them without Council action,” said Committee Chair Mike White.

“This is a problem manufactured by the administration,” said White.

“There is no rationale for the reduction in services.  We are talking about 1% of the budget that is in question, yet the administration is throwing recycling under the bus and putting trash pick-up and landfill operations in a tailspin,” he said.

Departments often remind the Council that they operate under a program budget to allow for flexibility in their operations to provide for core services, and cannot be told what to do by the legislative branch. 

“We have a crisis on our hands,” stated Council Chair Gladys Baisa. 

While driving through Pukalani, she sees trash bins overflowing and hearing members of the public confused on when their trash will be picked-up. 

“Right now, it is a big impact on our community and I cannot look the other way,” she said.  

Councilmember Crivello was puzzled by the administration’s latest actions, including their letter to the public informing them about the changes.

“The recent letter to the public really threw the Council under the bus,” she said.  It blamed the Council for a lack of resources given to them by the Council as the reasons for the reduction in services.

“Sometimes we lose sight of wanting to provide core services.  It is a shame of what is being put out publicly,” she said. 

Compliance with State Department of Health and U.S. Environmental Protection were at the heart of the discussion with Department representatives, claiming they need additional positions to meet various regulations. 

Councilmember Couch expressed his frustration.

“The crux of the issue is compliance.  Are we or are we not in compliance?  If we are not, what do we need to do to get into compliance?”

Unfortunately, the answer never came due to legal considerations raised by the Department of Corporation Counsel.

Couch also posed questions about adding additional employees, especially with the County’s plan to divert 85% of the County’s trash to a waste-to-energy plant.

“If you are going to cut 85% of your work, you would think that you would need fewer bodies than today,” Couch said. 

Department of Environmental Management Director Kyle Ginoza responded that employees will be reassigned to other tasks once the waste-to-energy conversion takes place.

Council Chair Baisa encouraged the administration to let the Council know what resources are needed.

“It is really sad we got to this point.  If anyone can come up with a short-term solution, you can, we can’t,” said Baisa.

Baisa also wanted to work together to fund a long-term solution.

Under the County Charter, only the administration has the ability to submit amendments to the annual budget once it is passed.  Ginoza alluded that a Fiscal Year 2015 budget amendment will be submitted shortly, requesting additional resources.

White reiterated, “without question, the administration has the ability to provide the resources for services that residents deserve and expect.”

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