Press "Enter" to skip to content

Charter amendment price tags: Most of the 16 proposed amendments will have minimal financial impact, county says

Most of the 16 charter amendments on the Nov. 3 ballot, if passed, will have minimal impact on the county budget, a Sept. 4 report from the county Finance Department states.

This is the first election the department is required to analyze charter amendments to tell voters how much each amendment will cost taxpayers. That’s because of a charter amendment in the 2018 election that was sponsored by Council Chairman Aaron Chung, who asked that voters be provided this information to help inform their votes.

“There were several purposes behind this,” Chung said Friday. “The main one was so the voters could be well educated on each of the issues as well as the financial impact prior to voting.”

Chung said once the amendment passed, it’s important that the County Council not weigh in on the potential cost.

“Once that charter amendment was ratified by the voters, the council would take a hands-off approach,” Chung said, adding he wanted to “make it really absent any political influences.”

The price tags won’t be on the ballot itself, but the public can view the report as well as the ballot questions and explanations at https://www.hawaiicounty.gov/Home/Components/News/News/2444.

The priciest charter amendment is Proposal 9. It will earmark 1% of real property tax revenues to be set aside for a disaster and emergency fund until that fund reaches $20 million.

Expenditures would increase by approximately $3 million per year for an undetermined number of years. Currently $250,000 is contributed to the Disaster and Emergency fund annually as required by Hawaii County Code.

Currently the Disaster and Emergency Fund has a fund balance of $6.5 million. This balance has steadily increased since formed in fiscal year 2006 and the balance has exceeded $5 million since fiscal year 2014. The fund continues to increase each year even in times of disasters as all reimbursements received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are returned to the fund to replace the expenditures out of the fund, according to the county Finance Department report.

Although the money doesn’t leave county coffers, its uses are restricted to certain emergency situations, so funding it will leave less money for regular operations.

Most of the other ballot questions would have little to no fiscal impact. They are:

Proposal 1 RELATING TO TECHNICAL, LINGUISTIC, AND GRAMMATICAL REVISIONS OF THE CHARTER: Shall the Charter of the County of Hawaii be amended by making various technical, linguistic, and grammatical revisions throughout the Charter?

Proposal 2 RELATING TO COUNCIL MEETING LOCATIONS: Shall the Charter of the County of Hawaii be amended to require that the Hawaii County Council hold an equal number of its regularly scheduled meetings in East Hawaii and West Hawaii?

Proposal 3 RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: Shall the Charter of the County of Hawaii be amended by clarifying the Department of Research and Development’s powers, duties, and functions?

Proposal 4 RELATING TO AUTHORITY OF POLICE AND FIRE COMMISSIONS: Shall the Charter of the County of Hawaii be amended to authorize the Police Commission to discipline the Police Chief and the Fire Commissions to discipline the Fire Chief?

Proposal 5 RELATING TO TERMS OF COUNCIL MEMBERS: Shall the Charter of the County of Hawaii be amended to change the terms of office for Council Members to four years from the current two years, starting with the 2022 County Council term, with no current member serving more than eight consecutive years?

Proposal 6 RELATING TO THE PUBLIC ACCESS, OPEN SPACE, AND NATURAL RESOURCES PRESERVATION FUND: Shall the Charter of the County of Hawaii be amended to allow monies in the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund to pay salary, wages, and benefits for staff dedicated to supporting the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation and Maintenance Funds?

Proposal 7 RELATING TO DISCIPLINE OF COUNCIL MEMBERS: Shall the Charter of the County of Hawaii be amended to allow the County Council to discipline its members through temporary suspension without pay for disorderly or contemptuous behavior or failure to attend three or more regularly scheduled County Council meetings without being excused by the Chair of the County Council?

Proposal 8 RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Shall the Charter of the County of Hawaii be amended by removing Department of Information Technology oversight of the information systems maintained by the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and the Police Department?

Proposal 10 RELATING TO THE PUBLIC ACCESS, OPEN SPACE, AND NATURAL RESOURCES PRESERVATION MAINTENANCE FUND: Shall the Charter of the County of Hawaii be amended to provide the Department of Finance full management responsibilities for the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Maintenance Fund and to expand the purposes for which the fund may be expended?

Proposal 11 RELATING TO MANDATORY CHARTER REVIEWS: Shall the Charter of the County of Hawaii be amended to align the process by which the County Charter Commission conducts its review of the Hawaii County Charter with the current requirements of State law?

Proposal 12 RELATING TO CORPORATION COUNSEL: Shall the Charter of the County of Hawaii be amended to require that qualifications to serve as the Corporation Counsel include being licensed to practice law for at least five years and having at least three years of supervisory experience?

Proposal 13 RELATING TO THE HAWAII FIRE DEPARTMENT: Shall the Charter of the County of Hawaii be amended to modify Fire Department functions, Fire Chief qualifications, and Fire Commission powers and duties?

Proposal 14 RELATING TO MEMBERSHIP ON BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS: Shall the Charter of the County of Hawaii be amended to remove political party membership limits for the makeup of County boards and commissions?

Proposal 15 RELATING TO THE CAPITAL BUDGET AND CAPITAL PROGRAMS: Shall the Charter of the County of Hawaii be amended to require that capital improvement priorities be based on criteria aligned with the County General Plan, County community development plans, emergency expenditures, and other pertinent functional plans?

Proposal 16
RELATING TO THE BOARD OF ETHICS:

Shall the Charter of the County of Hawaii be amended to clarify that the rules of procedure of the Board of Ethics shall have the force of law and grant the Board of Ethics authority to impose civil fines for violations of the Code of Ethics?
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    %d bloggers like this: