Mayor Roth describes Hawai‘i County as strong, ambitious, sustainable in annual address

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To combat the rising costs of housing, healthcare, and daily essentials Mayor Mitch Roth announced during the State of the County address his plan to ask the Hawai‘i County Council to decrease property taxes based on a close examination of the county budget.

Mayor Mitch Roth addressed community in State of the County on March 22, 2024. (Facebook screen grab)

If successful, it will be the first time since 2009 that an administration has cut real property taxes in the county, Roth said to an audience at West Hawai‘i Civic Center on Friday.

“This decision reflects our commitment to easing the financial burden on our residents and ensuring a more equitable future for all,” Roth said. “We also hope that the decrease in property taxes will be reflected in rental prices, benefiting those who rent.”

During his address, Roth also focused on key areas — affordable housing, building permitting, homelessness, parks and recreation, infrastructure, safety, environmental conservation, Hawaiian culture, county workforce and the cost of living — and what his administration has accomplished in addressing those issues in the three years he’s been in office.

Click here to watch the full address.

Roth highlighted the Office of Housing and Community Development’s efforts in increasing the affordable housing pipeline from 1,200 to over 8,100 homes. He also mentioned completing over 300 units, with 550 more slated for local, working-class families this year.


Roth emphasized his commitment to addressing homelessness, noting the comprehensive approach taken by his administration, which includes capacity building of service providers and increasing affordable housing. He also highlighted the completion of the first phase of the Kūkuiola Emergency Shelter and Assessment Center in Kailua-Kona, with the second phase set to add 48 affordable permanent housing units.

“For our local people experiencing homelessness, we will do everything we can to get them the help they need to be successful and have a fighting chance at a healthy and just life,” Roth said.

For the houseless population who are not from here and wish to return home, Roth said, that as of Jan. 1, the county has granted the 808 Homeless Taskforce under the direction of Regina Weller nearly $300,000 for its Family Reunification Program, which buys airline tickets for people to go home.

In the area of parks and recreation, Roth discussed his commitment to enforcing parks’ rules for the safety of all park-goers. He also highlighted major park projects planned for the future, including playground and field upgrades, new community centers, and emergency swimming pool repairs.

Roth also highlighted investments in public safety, including a new joint dispatch center and fleet upgrades. These efforts aim to improve emergency response and coordination between police and fire departments. He also emphasized pedestrian safety enhancements and initiatives to prevent impaired and reckless driving, underscoring his commitment to ensuring the well-being of Hawaiʻi Island’s communities.


This year, the county will complete three additional major projects at Kolekole Gulch Park, NAS Pool, and Pāhala Pool. These projects reflect our commitment to accessibility and inclusivity for all residents and visitors.

Roth also touched on infrastructure improvements, environmental conservation efforts, and promoting Hawaiian culture within the county workforce.

Mayor Mitch Roth address community in State of the County on March 22, 2024. (Facebook screen grab)

“When we came into office three years ago, an average of about 16 miles of road were paved per year,” Roth said. “Since taking office, our administration has paved over 70 miles of county roadway around Hawaiʻi Island.”

This year alone, the Department of Public Works anticipates paving nearly 50 miles of additional roadway. Roth announced the county will complete rehabilitation projects on major streets such as Kīlauea/Keawe Street in Hilo, Waikōloa Road, and Old Māmalahoa Road in Hōlualoa.

Roth also announced that work is currently underway on the Lālāmilo 10-million-gallon Reservoir Project. This $19.8 million project, awarded to Isemoto Contracting, aims to improve the resilience and reliability of the Lālāmilo Water System which will provide additional potable water storage for domestic use and fire


“When completed in approximately two years, it will be Hawai‘i’s largest potable water reservoir,” Roth said. “The project will also increase renewable energy use by leveraging wind power from the nearby 3.3-megawatt Lālāmilo Windfarm to fill the reservoir, reducing electrical costs, fossil fuel use, and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Roth talked about his administration’s work in acquiring more land for Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation than any previous administration. This land will remain unchanged in use as it is passed down to future generations, ensuring the timeless preservation of over 4,100 acres of pristine

In the upcoming year, we plan to acquire an additional 46.27 acres in Hōnaunau and 27.38 acres adjacent to the ocean in Waikōloa.

Roth wrapped up his speech by saying the county is strong, ambitious and sustainable.

“When I became mayor, I quickly learned that putting a band-aid on a broken arm is easy,” Roth said. “Just as eating a piece of fruit is often easier than growing it. The difference between eating and growing is simple. When we eat, we only sustain ourselves. When we grow, we help to sustain others for generations to come. Eating is quick, growing takes time.”

This year, Roth said his administration will continue harvesting the fruits of their collective labor while planting seeds for future yields.

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