Will Honolulu Council Give Back Mayor's Sewage Construction Money?

Courtesy Ron Slauson

UPDATED 6/6/2012 9 a.m.

For the second straight budget, a sewage treatment project is a major source of friction between Mayor Peter Carlisle and the Honolulu City Council.

Only this time around, it looks like the fight's going to last even beyond budget season. And one of Carlisle's challengers in the mayor's race is trying to capitalize on the brouhaha.

Last year, the council drew Carlisle's ire after nixing $26 million from his budget that had been earmarked for a second egg-shaped sewage digester at the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Within weeks, Carlisle said the plant was dangerously over capacity, and decided to start trucking sludge to Ewa despite community objections. The council shot back that Carlisle hadn't clearly communicated the seriousness of the situation during budget deliberations.

Fast-forward nearly 12 months and a similar situation has been brewing.

This year, Carlisle asked for $24.5 million for the project in his proposed capital budget and the council quickly sliced that request to a fraction of what it had been. But with the budget up for final vote Wednesday, most of the money is expected to be reinstated — with major conditions.

Council members don't want to throw good money after bad on a technology that they're not convinced is best for the city. They argue that alternatives should be considered before any construction begins.

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