HILO >> The ongoing Kilauea eruption that has destroyed 577 homes and displaced several thousand residents cost Hawaii County at least $1.4 million in unanticipated expenses from May 3 to May 20, according to county officials.
The expenses include overtime, road repairs, security and providing shelter to evacuees.
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Lava began flowing from Leilani Estates in the lower East Rift Zone on May 3 and has since covered more than 9 square miles across several sprawling subdivisions in Lower Puna.
As the eruption continues unchanged in its seventh week, costs can be expected to pile up even higher.
The Hawaii County Police Department racked up $669,956 in overtime and other expenses for the entire month of May alone, according to Maj. Sam Thomas, who is in charge of the department’s Administrative Services Division.
“I am sure you can imagine it has put a strain on our budget in that this was totally unfunded for,” Thomas said in an email. “We are hopeful that (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) will be able to reimburse some of these expenses.”
As the price tag for the volcano impacts keeps rising, Hawaii County also is reporting projected losses from property tax revenues. These include a $3 million loss in the first week alone, and that number could go as high as $12 milion, according to a Hawaii County Council Resolution 628-18, which urges the state Legislature to convene a special session to address emergency funding assistance to mitigate the eruption’s financial toll on Hawaii island.
The council is taking up the resolution at its meeting today in Kona.
Mayor Harry Kim’s proposed budget for FY 2018-2019, submitted May 4, before the full extent of the disaster was known, includes $518 million in operating costs. Resolution 628-18 says the anticipated impact on the county’s operations budget will exceed $4 million.
The costs for dealing with the Kilauea eruption go far beyond financial concerns, according to Thomas.
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