Hawai'i State News

Mayor Roth looks back at 2023 successes, provides preview for 2024

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Mayor Mitch Roth

Mayor Mitch Roth is taking a moment to look back on the accomplishments of 2023 and offering a glimpse into the exciting projects set to unfold in the coming year for the County of Hawaiʻi.

“Reflecting on 2023, we witnessed tremendous growth for our County,” Mayor Mitch Roth said. “Through the support of our community and the dedication of our County ʻohana, we made significant progress toward creating a sustainable Hawaiʻi Island, where future generations can thrive. Despite challenges, our staff’s accomplishments showcase their resilience and unwavering commitment to the people of Hawaiʻi Island. As we approach the challenges of 2024, we are humbled by the selfless nature of the Hawaiʻi Island community and their continued collaboration for a strong and vibrant future.”

Highlights of 2023:

Infrastructure & Transportation:

  • Successfully paved 38 miles islandwide.
  • Completed the Pohoiki Road and Highway 137 Environmental Assessment.
  • Streamlined building permitting processes and extended completion timeframes.
  • Renovated Wai‘ōhinu Recycling and Transfer Station.
  • Progress made with Pāhoa Transit Hub
  • Acquired eight new buses, ordered 9 EV buses (to be delivered 2025)
  • Enhanced Vehicle Registration and Licensing website
  • Completed Halaula Well and 500,000-gallon water tank construction.
  • Initiated Puako Beach Drive waterline replacement and Lalamilo 10 million-gallon water tank project.


  • Secured an outstanding $9.9 million in grant funds through R&D.
  • Obtained additional funding for innovative projects fostering economic development and community engagement.
  • Completed a two-year, $3 million Advancing Health Literacy grant.

Affordable Housing and Community Development:

  • Surged Affordable Housing Pipeline to over 6,900 units, a 21% increase through ‘23.
  • Issued 2,300 vouchers with a utilization rate exceeding 100%.
  • Awarded $4.5 million from HUD to combat inflationary housing costs.
  • Mass intake events significantly reduced the Section 8 waitlist.
  • Issued over 2,300 vouchers, including 300 for special populations.
  • Received an additional $4.5 million from HUD to address inflationary housing costs.
  • Added 130+ units to the Section 8 program through the Landlord Incentive Program.
  • Collaborated with 72 Section 8 participants in the Family Self-Sufficiency Program.
  • Assisted 13 Section 8 participants in the Homeownership Option Program.

Civil Defense and Emergency Services:

  • Completed renovations and upgrades to the Emergency Operations Center.
  • Revitalized the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program.
  • Invested in state-of-the-art communication systems.
  • Coordinated the update of the Hawaiʻi County Tsunami Evacuation Plan.
  • Replaced aging helicopter with a new H125 Airbus Helicopter.
  • Established lifeguard services at Kohaniki Beach Park.
  • Addressed deficiencies in fire stations.
  • Swore-in Police Chief Benjamin Moszkowicz.
  • Authorized the use of open-bed pickup trucks as subsidized police vehicles.

ʻĀina-based Initiatives:

  • Enforced a law to reduce the use of sunscreens with harmful chemicals.
  • Published the Hawaiʻi County Climate Action Plan.
  • Implemented solar-powered systems for water facilities.
  • Expanded Derelict and Abandoned Vehicles Program.
  • Received a $1.5 million grant for recycling infrastructure.

Community Planning Initiatives:

  • Released final draft of the General Plan.
  • Initiated updates to the Zoning and Subdivision Code.
  • Conducted extensive public outreach for feedback on planning initiatives.

Employee and Administrative Initiatives:

  • Coordinated Employee of the Year program, expanded County Tuition Reimbursement program, implemented uniform telecommuting program, and established Temporary On-Call Program.
  • Committed to diverse hiring practices to foster an inclusive workforce.
  • Launched an internal innovation challenge to improve administrative processes and service delivery.

Financial Achievements:

  • Upgraded County’s bond rating to AA+, lowering interest rates.
  • Issued $99 million in bonds for capital improvement projects.
  • Implemented cost-saving measures, increasing operational efficiency.

Parks & Recreation:

  • Completed ADA compliance projects at various parks.
  • Initiated Master Planning and Environmental Assessments for Kealakehe Regional Park, Hilo Skate Park, Oceanview Skate Park, Kikala Keokea Park (Puna), and Hawaiʻi Paradise Park (Puna).
  • Secured design/construction funding for critical projects, including Laupāhoehoe Boat Ramp repairs, Pāpaʻaloa Covered Playcourt, Hilo Skate Park, and more.

Preview for 2024:

In 2024, the County of Hawaiʻi will continue to invest in enhancing facilities and critical infrastructure islandwide while focusing on developing affordable housing for local families.

Parks Improvement:

  • Renovation of Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo.
  • Upgrade of electrical services at 12 park sites islandwide.
  • ADA compliance improvements in parks: Hilo Maintenance Base Yard, Kolekole Gulch Park, Miloliʻi Beach Park.
  • Master plan updates and environmental assessments for Hawaiian Paradise Park and Kahuku Skate Park.
  • Various projects, including beach park renovations, gymnasium upgrades, demolition/construction, and safety surfacing enhancements in playgrounds.

Housing Projects:

  • Initiating projects like Hoʻomalu at Waikōloa, Hualālai Court, Kaiāulu ʻO Kapʻiolani, Kamakoa Nui Loop Road, Kūkuiola Emergency Shelter, Nā Hale Mākoa, Ōʻōkala, Villages at Laʻi ʻŌpua Phase 3, and 34 Rainbow Drive renovations.
  • Completion of projects like Ainaloa Self-Help Homes Phase 2, Hale Nā Koa ʻO Hanakahi, Kaloko Heights, and Kūkuiola Emergency Shelter Phase 1, 
  • A total of 1,544 affordable housing units will be worked on or completed in 2024.

Infrastructure Investments:

  • The Department of Public Works will be overseeing projects, including Aupuni Center Reroofing, Mamalahoa Road Rehabilitation (Part 2), Highway 137/Pohoiki Road Construction, Shipman Industrial Drywell Reconstruction, Pāhala Fire Station Reroofing, Lanikaula Street Rehabilitation, Public Safety Building Improvements, and more. 

The County of Hawaiʻi’s strategy for community development underscores its dedication to strengthening the island economy and fostering workforce development through investments in addressing deferred maintenance and revitalizing neglected infrastructure.

The County of Hawaiʻi extends its warmest wishes to the Hawaiʻi Island community for a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

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