Honolulu mayor discusses affordable housing, rail budget in sixth State of the City address

Honolulu mayor discusses affordable housing, rail budget in sixth State of the City address
Published: Apr. 2, 2018 at 8:46 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 3, 2018 at 8:06 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell delivered his sixth State of the City address on Tuesday night at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center.

He opened his address by discussing the future renovations to the Neal S. Blaisdell Center, which will pause after the design phase until after rail funding is resolved.

Caldwell also expressed his desire to see the controversial rail project through to its completion — 20 miles and 21 stops.

"My commitment, energy and drive have not changed since I first stepped into the Mayor's Office in January 2013," Caldwell said. "Our rail project is so transformative to the people of Oahu, those already here and yet to be born, it remains worth fighting for every step of the way."

The mayor also mentioned that the multi-million dollar project needs more money if it's going to reach its original goal.

In September  2017 Act 1, the $2.4 billion bailout bill, was passed by the state Legislature. allotting funds to the rail recovery project. City officials said that under the bill, the city still has to come up with more than $200 million of its own money to finance the project's construction.

The mayor said that  approximately $214 million is needed between now and 2030, with $44 million in next year's capital improvement budget — or the rail could be seriously derailed.

"The $44 million is part of this commitment moving forward," Caldwell said. "And it's placement in the City's Capital budget makes the most sense."

"Failure to do so could jeopardize HART receiving in a timely manner the remaining $744 million allocated under the Full Funding Grant Agreement with the FTA," Caldwell said. "And the possibility that HART and ultimately the city would have to return some or all of the $806 million already received by HART."

The mayor closed out his sixth state address by encouraging support behind a bill that would require high-rises to meet the fire code.

"It is easy to pass incentive bills that help people with the cost to retrofit their high rise apartment units," Caldwell said. "But let's have the courage to also pass the tough stuff."

The rest of the mayor's address can be found below.

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