LIHU’E — The Kaua’i County Council has held up plans by the county Office of
Elderly Affairs to take over educational and recreational programs offered to
senior residents by the Kaua’i Seniors Center Inc.
On Wednesday, the
Council said it would consider extending KSC contract by three to six months
until the county Parks and Recreation Division is ready to take over the
programs this year.
The county division came in second behind KSC in
bidding for the $127,000-year contract last year.
At stake is whether the
shift in the management of the programs will affect the quality of programs
both sides say help enrich the lives of elderly participants.
President Mel Rapozo predicted services will be disrupted if KSC is not
involved in the transition work.
“Why are we going to deviate from what is
happening now,” he said. “The day-to-day operation, when we can participate
with them in the transition, using the same staff, same program, same senior
Matilda Yoshioka, director of the Offices of Community
Assistance, disagreed, saying said she and her staff don’t anticipate any
interruption in services due to the shift in management, partly because
qualified workers will be hired.
On Wednesday, the Office of Elderly
Affairs asked the Council to hire 10 employees to man the centers during the
transition period. Another 10 employees are expected to hired later.
would be paid under the $127,000 contract, consisting of federal, state and
The Council, however, took no action on the request after
Rapozo said his group had made financial and personnel changes to ensure the
work in the transition period would be smooth.
“If the testimony today is
sincere, and I believe it is , then you deserve another chance to be looked
at,” said County Councilman Jimmy Tokioka.
Rapozo said the money problems
cited by the county have been rectified.
The board, he said, will now
require each of the neighborhood centers, where the classes and programs are
implemented, to submit financial reports monthly.
The board also will pay
more attention to the operation’s daily operations, Rapozo said. “We are going
to be a working board.”
Support for what KSC is attempting to accomplish
came from Kaua’i residents Mino Yoshii and Dorothy Song .
the seniors are pawns in a battle between KSC and the county, and that they are
the last to know about the status of their classes and programs.
said the state and county agency should honor its current contract with
Council Vice Chair Bryan Baptiste, and Councilmen Billy Swain and Gary
Hooser said they wanted all sides to sit down to work out a compromise that
will benefit the elderly.
At this point, seniors prefer KSC to maintain
control of the program, Hooser said.
“The seniors I have spoken to so far
have said they would rather have a dysfunctional, private, nonprofit than be
wards of the state,” Hooser said.
If and when the county takes over the
programs, seniors want to play a key role in their formation, Hooser
Yoshioka said it would be disastrous if the county attempted to
improve the programs without the help of the elderly participants.
Council is expected to discuss the issue at its committee meeting next
After the meeting, Ellie Lloyd, who heads the county Office of
Elderly Affairs, said her agency intends to work with KSC during the transition
The county, she said, would take over the management of programs
carried out at the neighborhood centers, and KSC can continue to support or
fund bowling activities, softball or baseball games, outings and employment
training for the elderly.
But Rapozo said KSC can carry all of the services
because it has the experience and manpower.
KSC has been awarded a yearly
contract for the services since 1968. Among the classes offered: Hawaiian
quilts, Japanese dancing, basket weaving, knitting, crafts, Filipino dancing
and computer use.
But the county had a fallout with KSC about six or seven
years, when the quality of services started to dip, Lloyd said.
organization has had management problems, financial difficulties and problems
keeping staff, Lloyd said.
The problems contributed to a downward spiral in
The program currently serves 843 seniors islandwide. It
once served more than 4,000 seniors, but participation dropped to less than a
fourth of that number partly due to the lack of new programs, Lloyd has
Because of the problems, Lloyd said an agreement was reached between
her agency and the state agency to award the contract to the county Parks and
Recreation Division, which has a plan that will be modified to implement
programs for the seniors in the future.
At the meeting, Kekaha resident
Jose Bulatao said the Parks and Recreational Division has limited resources and
overworked employees and would have a difficult time, at least initially, in
taking over the programs for seniors.
“What real time can we give to the
transitioning concerns come Oct. 1?”