Following the Tuesday, September 17, 2013 Budget and Finance Committee Meeting, Councilmember Mike White offered the following statement on the proposed Launiupoko parcel purchase discussed at the meeting.
“I support the purchase of open space for future generations and I believe this acquisition is one that the County should pursue. However, the question is not about the need for open space, but rather at what cost? What good is purchasing land for future generations if the future tax base will not be able to afford it?
“An appraisal that was presented to the Budget and Finance Committee was fundamentally flawed and its assumptions were dictated by the administration, instead of using industry best practices. The appraisal compares developable parcels to lands that cannot be further developed. Therefore, the County could be paying substantially more than what the property is actually worth. Because of this, I feel a second opinion on the lands value is warranted.
“We have expenses that are growing rapidly and to a great degree, beyond our control. An easy example is the wage and salary increases that have been awarded this year will amount to cost increases in excess of $45 million by Fiscal Year 2017. In order to cover this expense, we will have to expand our tax base by the equivalent of three times the taxes in Kahului and nearly four times the taxes paid by all of Wailuku.
“Although the members of the Budget and Finance Committee did not agree upon a second appraisal today, I will once again request a second appraisal at Friday’s Council meeting.
“It is vital that when spending taxpayer funds, we are doing so in a diligent and accountable manner. It would be highly irresponsible to move forward on a $13 million land purchase without appropriate due diligence.”
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