Published in The Maui News, Feb. 8, 2015
By MIKE WHITE, for The Maui News
Along with other county officials, I had the honor of hosting this year’s Ka Ipu Kukui fellows at the county building last week for a day of discussing long-term issues facing local government.
Ka Ipu Kukui is a leadership-development program led by Dr. Lori Teragawachi that counts many current leaders of Maui County among its alumni. It’s always inspiring to interact with the fellows and experience their commitment to working for our community’s future.
I’m proud the County Council has provided funding to the fellowship program. It’s an investment in our future.
But it’s important to remember county grant funding is a competitive annual process.
The council is required to approve a balanced budget each fiscal year, according to the Maui County Charter. Discretionary grants, and all other appropriations, are scrutinized in the council’s annual budget session.
The budget session starts with the delivery of the mayor’s budget proposal, no later than March 25. Council members will then spend the next several weeks receiving public testimony and engaging in colloquies with department directors, under the leadership of Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Riki Hokama.
The budget committee will venture to all parts of the community to receive testimony during the budget session this spring. You can also testify on the budget by sending an email, referencing BF-1, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of the charter’s system of checks and balances, the council responds to the mayor’s budget proposals. The council doesn’t have the ability to propose budget amendments during the fiscal year.
That’s why it was surprising to recently read that the mayor criticized the council for not providing funding to “support” the 2014 ordinance that bans tobacco use in county beaches and parks (“Ask the Mayor,” The Maui News, Jan. 26). I assume his fiscal year 2016 budget proposal will include funding for the signage and enforcement that he implies are currently lacking.
Meanwhile, I’m keeping tabs on bills introduced in the state Legislature that could have an impact on county authority and, most important, on the lives of Lanai, Maui and Molokai residents.
Last week, in my first testimony of the 2015 state legislative session, I supported House Bill 730, which would require a public hearing in any county directly impacted by a proposed administrative rule. Introduced by Reps. Angus McKelvey, Joseph Souki and Kyle Yamashita of Maui, this bill stems from last year’s negative experience with a proposed new rule on cesspools.
The Department of Health’s rule would have disproportionately impacted Maui County, but the only public hearing was on Oahu. My testimony is available at mauicounty.us/2015stateleg.
* Mike White is the chairman of the Maui County Council and 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.