Hawaii County Advances $103M Bond Issue For Road Projects

Mar 15, 2020

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — Multiple road construction projects in Hawaii could start sooner under a $103 million bond measure advanced by a county council committee.

The Hawaii County Finance Committee has unanimously advanced a bill Friday that would fund multiple construction projects across the island, West Hawaii Today reported.

“This is a good time to issue bonds," Finance Director Deanna Sako said, adding that interest rates are down and one of the bond-rating agencies increased the county's rating.

Standard & Poors raised Hawaii County's credit rating from AA- to AA after an unscheduled evaluation and upgrade in December, Sako said. A higher rating usually lowers the interesting rate on borrowing.

The bill would help raise money for multiple transportation projects including Ane Keohokalole Highway Phase III and Puna Connectivity and Emergency Access Routes.

The hundred-million-dollar bond is intended to fulfill a promise to constituents that the council would prioritize and push road construction projects following the approval of a county surcharge on the general excise tax, said Council Chairman Aaron Chung, the bill sponsor.

“This is in no way saying that these projects are exhaustive of the needs of the island,” Chung said. “But it should give us a good kick-start.”

The bond issue would include enough money for the administration to select priority projects and allow the county to leverage the money for state and federal road grants, Chung said.

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim is expected to release the final proposed budget by May 5. Once amended and passed by the council, it goes into effect July 1.