Rooted in Reason: Nurturing the Seeds of Liberty


“Great Financial Shape”? How About “Financially Irresponsible”? by grassroothawaii
July 20, 2010, 9:52 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

By Kyle Shiroma

In recent news Mayor Mufi Hannemann stated that the proposed Rail Transit system is in “great financial shape.  The mayor also said that the City and County of Honolulu could afford to take on both the Rail Transit project and the $4.7 billion repairs and upgrades for the sewer system.

For Hannemann to say that the Rail Transit system is in “great financial shape” is quite a statement to make, and I’m not sure that I buy this.  Hannemann said that the Federal government has granted $1.55 billion in federal funds towards the project, and that the City and County has raised $1.3 billion in excess for possible cost overruns and tax collection deficits.  However, in times of furloughs and economic hardships, why is the City and County even attempting a project with a $5.3 billion price tag when studies have shown that there are cheaper alternative solutions, such as HOT lanes? And the mayor also claims that the residents of Oahu can also afford the $4.7 billion sewer repairs, bringing the total amount of money being spent on these two projects to $10 billion.  And with only $1.55 billion coming from the federal government, the remaining $8.45 billion will come out of the taxpayer’s pocket.  The sewer repairs and upgrades are an understandable necessity being that the first sewers were constructed in 1927 with expansions and upgrades taking place only when absolutely necessary.  But it’s no secret that the $5.3 billion Rail Transit system is a huge investment, and with a projected impact of only 1.7% reduction of auto trips, one can fathom that this might not be a very wise investment.  Not only would this be the most expensive transit project in U.S. history, but it would also come at a time when that money could be better spent on other projects such as infrastructure improvement.  Also, mayor Hannemann says that they city has raised $1.3 billion in excess to cover possible costs overruns.  But why should there be an overrun if this project is already the most expensive of its kind? If there is a cost overrun, then the city would have spent more than $5.3 billion on this rail system.  I think that in this economic time, spending $5.3 billion or more on a project that is not a dire necessity to the people would be classified as fiscally irresponsible.

While Mayor Mufi claims that the Rail Transit system is doing well financially, all that money could be spent on other projects, rather than a very expensive rail system that will not have a huge impact on traffic.  In a time of economic struggles, the City and County should focus on spending only on necessary projects such as the sewer upgrades instead of projects such as the Rail Transit system, which is not vital to the well being of Honolulu residents.

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