BY ANNE NIETHAMMER – Picture the City and County of Honolulu four years from now in 2016. Hawaiian Electric Co. has raised rates such that a typical family of four is paying over $200/mo. for electricity.
The Board of Water Supply and Department of Environmental Services have substantially raised water and sewer rates. For a single family or duplex dwelling, assuming the current percentage increases, the monthly base charge will be over $86.00/month even if you never turn on a faucet.
If these increases aren’t adequate to fund the over $1billion dollar EPA settlement requirement to upgrade the wastewater collection and treatment systems, another increase will be needed. Gasoline prices are over $5.00/gallon – our roads are full of potholes and deteriorating. Acres of prime farmland in Ewa have been lost to a housing developer. Local farms that once supplied fresh produce and products at reasonable prices are gone.
Now, picture the City & County of Honolulu four years from now if our current administration is still in office. The rail project estimates have escalated from the original $5 billion plus to over $8 billion. Numerous delays, construction changes and cost overruns have caused the estimate to soar.
Our beautiful island is scarred by ugly concrete columns which support wide sections of guideway superstructure as construction continues. Remember the Boston “Big Dig” – the cost estimate went from $2.6 billion to a final cost of over $14 billion.
The city debt affordability guidelines have again been suspended and the Mayor has asked the State Legislature for yet another one-half percent increase in the excise tax to be marked for the rail project. Your property taxes have greatly increased in order to “fund vital services”; meaning to make up for funds funneled into rail. Support for the project has plummeted but the work goes on.
Yes, we do need to address transportation alternatives, and there are many, for our friends and neighbors who live in West Oahu, but not this rail system. Sound pessimistic? Yes, but think about it.
Anne Niethammer is a resident of Honolulu