HONOLULU — The city will conduct a financial audit of Hanauma Bay amid accusations that money generated by the popular snorkeling spot isn’t being used to make improvements to the park.
The Friends of Hanauma Bay group is calling for a semi-autonomous agency to manage and operate Hanauma Bay.
The tourist attraction generates $6 million a year, yet there’s a backlog of repairs and the group’s president accuses the city of spending that revenue on other areas of the island, Hawaii News Now reported.
“Absolutely incorrect,” Mayor Kirk Caldwell said of the accusation. “The money that is raised there stays there. One, it’s illegal to spend it anywhere else and we don’t spend it anywhere else.” He said the revenues are invested back into the bay or kept in reserves.
Caldwell also said the bay doesn’t need the level of bureaucracy to support it in the way the group proposes, similar to the Board of Water Supply and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.
“Hanauma Bay is totally self-sufficient. It needs no tax money so why are we being thrown in with everyone else who is scrambling for tax money and then we get lost in the bureaucracy of getting things repaired,” said Sid McWhirter, the group’s president.
Even though their resolution was deferred, the city will do the audit and says there is more than $4 million in the bay’s reserve fund that will be spent on maintenance issues.
“We have done better but there is always more to do and we want to get down to just making sure we have a better management system in place so these ongoing problems are corrected,” Caldwell said.
More meetings on the issue are scheduled for Sept. 10.