Published in The Maui News, March 29, 2015
By MIKE WHITE, for The Maui News
The County Council’s annual budget session is set to run from Tuesday until early May.
Under the leadership of Budget and Finance Committee Chair Riki Hokama, council members will review operational funding for agencies, grants, capital improvement projects, real property tax rates and fees for county services. If you’re planning to testify about a budget issue that’s important to you, here are some tips to make your three-minute oral testimony effective:
- Introduce yourself. State your name for the record, and indicate if you represent an organization. Anyone- regardless of age, job or home address – is allowed to testify at any council or committee meeting, but council members naturally are interested in learning who you are.
- Purpose of testimony. It’s best to state the purpose of your testimony immediately – whether you support or oppose a particular issue. Council members receive a massive amount of information, and not clearly stating your position on an issue may cause confusion.
- Good performance means good investment. During the budget session, council members must find reasons to support a program, grant or service. Offer solutions on how to prudently spend – and save – taxpayer money. Share the positive community impacts of the budget proposal you support, and give specific examples.
- Bring copies of written testimony. Remember that you are also allowed to submit written testimony – which can be a helpful recitation or reinforcement of oral testimony. Eighteen copies of written testimony are requested at budget meetings.
- Aloha goes a long way. Expect different views from different people. Even when there’s disagreement, testifiers are expected to be courteous and respectful of the proceedings. There is nothing gained when someone impedes the orderly conduct of public meetings.
- Stay connected. Agendas and documents will be uploaded to mauicounty.us/2016budget. The schedule for district meetings and other preliminary information are already available on the site.
The Budget and Finance Committee will meet at the Kihei Community Center on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., followed by the next district meeting on Molokai on April 7 and at the Haiku Community Center on April 9.
The next council meeting is April 7 at 9 a.m. in the Council Chamber.
Written testimony and inquiries may be emailed to email@example.com. Share relevant photos and comments on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #mc2016budget.
More tips – and the standards of decorum – are online at mauicounty.us/how-to-testify.
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The Maui County Council is hosting the 2015 Hawaii State Association of Counties Annual Conference, June 24-26, at the Makena Beach & Golf Resort. The conference theme is: “Why invest in our counties? Counties move Hawaii forward.”
We’re compiling a roster of engaging speakers and seeking sponsors to help defray conference costs. Information about the HSAC conference is available at mauicounty.us/HSAC2015.
* Mike White is chair of the Maui County Council and vice chair of the council’s Budget and Finance Committee. 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.