Council Member Ann Kobayashi
Council Member Ann Kobayashi

Honolulu City Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi hoped to receive a thorough briefing on the financial picture for the city’s $5.2 billion rail project from the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation department on Wednesday, but instead she and other committee members were left with more questions.

Diane Arakaki, chief financial officer for HART, was asked to provide Kobayashi’s committee with the details of the amount remaining in – and the amount spent – from the rail’s contingency fund.

But instead, Arakaki gave few answers and left council members confused about the figures.

Council members asked Arakaki to explain why the contingency fund dropped from a reported $815 million to $644 million and $192 million to $102 million. She said she did not have specifics but would get back to the council budget chair.

Arakaki also could not provide details about the project’s multiple change orders even though the hearing was specifically called to review those change orders.

In previous press releases and news articles, HART acknowledged:

  • $7.2 million change order for Kiewit Building Group Inc. (August 30)
  • $15.9 million change order for Kiewit Kobayashi Joint Venture (April 19, 2012)
  • Three pending change orders worth $2.7 million.
  • $900,000 change order to transplant or remove an additional 132 trees along Farrington Highway (the total number of trees impacted by the rail is 366).
  • Another $1 million change order for planning at the Hoopili site.

Even as the chief financial officer for HART, Arakaki could not offer information details, including what the change orders are or how much they cost.

Two members of the public who testified after Arakaki said they were disturbed by her answers – or lack there of.

Natalie Iwasa, a CPA based in Honolulu, said Arakaki used terminology that confused the issue, such as “allocated” and “unallocated”, rather than just giving the straight answers that council members requested.

Council Member Romy Cachola was also visibly frustrated.

Arakaki promised to provide the council with a written report answering their questions. Kobayashi pledged to make the report available to the public and the media.

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