Published in The Maui News, September 6, 2015
By MIKE WHITE, for The Maui News
As constituents have requested, I continue to explore the possibility of having the County of Maui adopt a county manager form of governance, a subject I first addressed in this space nearly two months ago.
The Maui County General Plan provides the following guidance to government officials: “Evaluate and, if necessary, recommend modifications to the County Charter that could result in a possible change to the form of governance for Maui County.”
Consistent with this directive, I have asked the Cost of Government Commission to include the county manager concept as a topic of review in its 2015-16 annual report.
As I explained to the commission, the logical and prudent first step in considering a new form of government is identifying the potential cost savings and efficiencies that may be achieved by a county manager form of government. There are several worthy variations of how it can be structured, and I welcome exploration of all setups.
In addition, the 2011-12 Charter Commission’s final report recommended the establishment of a “task force” to study forms of county governance. To that end, I am working on convening a blue ribbon committee of local leaders to report to the County Council on the merits of a county manager and perhaps other governance models.
With the benefit of objective and thorough research from both the Cost of Government Commission and a blue ribbon committee, the council will be well prepared to decide whether a charter amendment creating a county manager position should be proposed. If so, the proposal would go on next year’s general election ballot.
In planning news, the council is set to soon conclude its review of the Lanai Community Plan. Meanwhile, because of weather-related meeting cancellations, the Molokai Community Plan Advisory Committee has requested more time to work on that island’s long-range plan.
Once CPAC’s review is complete, the Molokai Planning Commission will get the next opportunity to evaluate the Molokai Community Plan. Council review and action could come later this term or during the 2017-19 term, with Maui Island community plans coming up next.
The Hawaii State Association of Counties’ Executive Committee will meet in the Council Chambers on Friday at 11 a.m. This meeting is open to the public.
The primary purpose of the meeting is to help develop a unified message for the counties in preparation for the 2016 state legislative session. Achieving a greater share of the hotel room tax revenue is among the hot topics.
* Mike White is chair of the Maui County Council. He holds the council seat for the Paia-Haiku-Makawao residency area. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.