WAILUKU – Mayor Alan Arakawa and Council Chair Gladys Baisa today announced that regular and holiday landfill operations and trash pick-ups will resume effective immediately.
The Mayor cautioned that this comes at the cost of depleting the Solid Waste Division’s annual funding in a few months and that to restore services will require the administration to submit a new budget amendment early next year. “Chair Baisa and I understand that this is a temporary solution and that we will need to send the Council a budget amendment. I’m hoping that after the election season has passed, we will be able to work with the Council to move forward in a positive and constructive way.”
“While I do not consider this the most fiscally prudent strategy, it is the only way to restore refuse services under the current budgetary and regulatory constraints the department is facing,” said the Mayor. “Simply put, if the council doesn’t approve our budget amendment the department will run out of money and all landfill operations and regular trash pick-up for everyone in the county will again be impacted.”
The current Budget and Finance Chair had indicated in a Maui News article he would not schedule the Mayor’s prior budget amendment this year, which would mean that the department would have to spend its remaining allotment in a few months to be able to restore regular and holiday refuse services.
“I’ve heard from many residents who have asked for landfill operations and holiday trash pickups to resume, and I agree that not having these essential services has caused a major disruption,” said Mayor Arakawa.
“While I and others have blamed certain Councilmembers for the debacle, the public has also made it clear that they are tired of the petty bickering and political agendas that have arisen during the election season. We are willing to do our part by restoring services as requested by the public, and we look forward to working with Council after the elections in the new term to consider budget amendments so that we can properly fund the department’s core refuse services without election implications.”
Mayor Arakawa and Chair Baisa also noted that taxpayers have already paid for more than $560,000 in non-compliance fines from the State Dept. of Health. “These fines could have been avoided by funding the specific positions needed to perform the landfill functions as required by regulatory agencies; employees are not allowed to switch jobs for a day,” the Mayor said. “This is what we need the Councilmembers to understand. There are strict rules designed to protect the community’s health and safety, and it is imperative that the department meets or exceeds these standards.”
“It is my sincere hope that the politically motivated antics can stop so we can work together in a spirit of cooperation to find appropriate and productive ways to address short-term solutions and long-term funding for this department,” he said. “I am thankful that we have leaders like Council Chair Baisa who can look past the politics and make good decisions for our community.”
“When it comes to public services we cannot let politics or personality clashes get in the way,” said Council Chair Baisa. “The Mayor has never been hesitant to reach out to me and together we have always managed to find solutions. I agree with him that this is a temporary measure at best and that we need to look at long-term solutions to the challenges facing our landfills. Until then, we must restore services to the public.”