Council throws another $4M into Lono Kona

HILO — When bids for the Lono Kona sewer project came in earlier this year, the county tossed them out, hoping for a better deal. The opposite happened when the new set of bids was opened Thursday — the bids came in even higher.

Four companies responded to the first bid request in January, with bids ranging from $7.7 million to $10.4 million. Two companies — Nan Inc. and Jas. W. Glover Ltd. — responded to the latest request, with bids of $8.5 million and $9.6 million, respectively. Isemoto Contracting Co. Ltd., the apparent low bidder the first go-round, didn’t submit a bid the second time.


The county had anticipated bids to be around $5 million to $6 million.

A $4 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service Grant was to fund the bulk of the program. The County Council previously approved authorizing a $2.4 million general obligation bond, which will be repaid by property owners hooking up to the system.

In the meantime, the County Council on Wednesday added $4 million to the budget by approving county money to make up the difference. Bill 124, passed unanimously on first reading, relies on general obligation bonds and money from the capital improvement fund for financing. The bill faces one more reading from the council.

“Hopefully, the bids came back lower,” said Kona Councilman Dru Kanuha on Wednesday. “We do not want to lose those grants.”

Environmental Management Director Bill Kucharski said Thursday the county had no choice but to reject the first bids because there wasn’t enough money in the budget to cover them.

“We didn’t have the funds encumbered to do it,” he said.

Kucharski said the county can’t seek other grants or low-interest loans, such as from the state revolving fund, because of the money coming from the federal government.

But Kona resident and former blogger Aaron Stene, who doesn’t live in the subdivision but closely follows government contracts, wasn’t happy about the situation.

“As it stands now, the project’s future is in a much precarious position than where it was in January,” Stene said in a letter Friday to Kucharski. “The residents of Lono Kona subdivision, and the taxpayers of the county, deserve better.”

The project will be built mauka of Highway in an area residents have dubbed “Hamburger Hill.” The subdivision dates back to 1962.

Several landowners within Lono Kona received violation notices from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their continued use of large-capacity cesspools. The project area is a higher-density urbanized area where lot sizes generally do not have sufficient area for on-site disposal systems that require leach fields, according to county consultants.

The EPA banned large-capacity cesspools in 1999 and mandated their closure by 2005.


At a 2015 public hearing, residents had mixed reactions about the necessity and cost of the project. But few had outright opposition. The residents voted to tax themselves to pay for the project.

The design and bid process is expected to take at least a year. Officials in November had estimated completion by July 2019. It’s now set to be complete by December of that year.

  1. diverdave April 2, 2018 12:30 am

    “The county had anticipated bids to be around $5 million to $6 million”

    Again, who is doing the estimating for the County. If this happened in the private sector the estimator would be fired! Being off millions of dollars is unheard of.

    Who is doing the estimating, Willey Coyote’s ACME estimating Service?

    1. paul April 2, 2018 5:10 pm

      well said!!!!!!!

  2. Pest Outwest April 2, 2018 3:13 am

    So, our tax dollars go to Washington, get savaged by the burearacy there, and then come back to us to fund one neighborhood’s sewage problem? Four million from the feds and now another four million from the county? Why isn’t this only a problem for the people involved, why should the federal government and now the county, have to foot the bill for this?

    And if the answer is that the people living there couldn’t afford the cost, then they never should have built the houses in the first place. Condemn the entire area, buy out everyone, rip down the houses, re-zone the dirt and sell it. Too bad for the residents, but it’s their problem, not ours. It’s not our business to protect the value of houses that shouldn’t have been built.

  3. Buds4All April 2, 2018 5:59 am

    I try to be compassionate and know that every circumstance is different. However it seems more and more others bad decisions, choices and government misjudgments are my problem. I feel like the harder I work the more people expect people like myself to pay for their stupidity? Just like POutWest said. Would it not be cheaper to buy these people out with the grant and be done with this? You know that 8M will turn into 14M!

  4. Scooby April 2, 2018 6:23 am

    Cancel contracts and pay more is the common theme with this administration. You go public with what you expect the bid to come in and then be surprised when it comes in higher? Incompetence at its best with this administration. Cancel it again Harry and see what the next bids will come in at.

  5. KonaDude April 2, 2018 6:30 am

    I bought this really big million dollar home and now can’t afford to pay the taxes or utilities, can I get some help? Oh and the HOA wants me to fix the place up some but I can’t, I think my fellow tax payers should help me out.. Maybe I should start a go fund me?

  6. 4whatitsworth April 2, 2018 6:35 am

    Water, sewer, schools, roads, and crime should be county priorities. The problem is the county spends all their time and our money on all social issues, their salaries, and unions. This is a loosing proposition for the general public.

    1. paul April 2, 2018 5:11 pm

      dam right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. PUNATIC April 2, 2018 10:51 am

    Oh just let them crap in the ocean…..there, problem solved!

    1. Pest Outwest April 2, 2018 11:56 am

      Sorry, but that’s reserved for the homeless.

      1. Scooby April 2, 2018 12:13 pm

        Yes, with a emergency declaration so its okay to sh*t and set up tarps and makeshift pallets…all sanctioned by the County of Hawaii and Mayor Kim.

  8. diverdave April 2, 2018 11:38 am

    This is simply the legal mafia in action folks. Time and time again when it comes to any project in Hawaii it always costs far more than estimated. Remember when Mufi Hannemann claimed that the Disneyland ride in Honolulu would NOT cost over 2.7 Billion? It’s now in the range of $10 Billion (and not over yet). Then, he is later handed the cushy job as head of
    the Tourism Authority, and now he has no problem with all the Island’s
    in Hawaii tourism taxes contributing to the union joy ride on Oahu. Hmm.

    The Legal Mafia
    in action.

    1. Scooby April 2, 2018 12:14 pm

      Sorry dave its the “yakuza” led by wanna be Okabe and grasshopper Kim.

      1. diverdave April 2, 2018 12:41 pm

        Yes “yakuza”. The Japanese version of the American Mafia.

    2. paul April 2, 2018 5:14 pm

      dam right..Oahu is a lost cause….I truly hope the other islands are not Oahuized!!!!!

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