LIHU’E — A Kaua’i County Council committee yesterday approved the temporary
hiring of 23 people to allow the county Office of Elderly Affairs to take over
educational and recreational classes offered to senior residents by Kaua’i
Senior Centers Inc.
The action, the county agency said, will result in no
disruption of services to nearly 850 senior residents currently served by
The new employees will provide services during a three-month
transition period, which ends Sept. 30. From that point on, the county’s Parks
and Recreational Division will take over the program.
But the decision by
the Council’s Public Safety and Services/Intergovernmental Relations Committee
didn’t sit well with Kauaians Glenn Mickens and Robert Measel Jr.
said the county’s Park and Recreation Division, which would manage the nine
centers where the classes for senior residents are held, is overburdened with
projects and is not equipped to take over another program.
Mickens said it
would be “disastrous” if the county took it over.
The county’s proposal
amounts to “big government taking over, according to Robert Measel Jr.
Moreover, residents will probably be asked to pay higher taxes to cover
the county’s cost to run the program.
The Council’s action came after the
county Office of Elderly Affairs and KSC agreed having the nonprofit
participate in the transition period from July to September would involve
undoing too much red tape.
After informing the federal and state
government agencies of its takeover plans, the county couldn’t reconsider a
request from KSC to participate in the transition work because the process for
the takeover was in place, said Matilda Yoshioka, director of the Offices of
“The state didn’t want to go back and ask for a
reversal,” Yoshioka said.
But the nonprofit group, which has held a
yearly contract since 1968 to provide services to senior citizens, still feels
it can do the job, said KSC board President Mel Rapozo.
KSC will work with
the county because “we have to get it done so services to seniors will not be
disrupted,” Rapozo said.
Yoshioka said she wants to work with KSC to
ensure the nonprofit group remains a viable resource for Kaua’i
“We don’t want Kaua’i Senior Centers to close up and
Council Vice Chair Bryan Baptiste said the county agencies and KSC
have to put aside their differences for the good of the people they serve –
Councilman Gary Hooser said he understood the reasons for
the county takeover, but he said he would prefer the services remained in the
charge of KSC.
Nonetheless, he said he hoped the transition will result in
Under the plan, the county will take over the
management of classes conducted at the neighborhood centers, including Hawaiian
quilts, Japanese dancing, basket weaving, knitting, crafts, Filipino dancing
and computer use.
KSC, meanwhile, will continue to fund and support
sporting events, outings for seniors, employment training for seniors and
During the transition period, seven KSC employees have
agreed to join the county to run the centers, according to Ellie Lloyd, who
heads the county’s Office of Elderly Affairs.
Another 16 instructors will
be hired to hold classes at the centers, Lloyd said.
The salaries of the
23 people will be covered under a $127,000 contract, consisting of federal,
state and county funds.
Over the next three months, Carvalho and his staff
are expected to meet with elderly participants to get their input on what they
want in the way of services.
The Parks and Recreation Division hopes to
have a concrete plan by Oct.1, and plans to submit it to the Council for
Councilman Daryl Kaneshiro said if the county, for unforseen
reasons, is not able to implement the program property, KSC’s expertise and
manpower can be used.
KSC now has a chance to regroup and modify its
operation sufficiently to be in a position to bid again for the contract,
Councilman Randal Valenciano said.
The county Office of Elderly Affairs has
been dissatisfied with KSC services for the past six years, citing concerns
about the KSC problems with funding and retaining staff.
This year, an
agreement was reached between the county agency and the Executive Office on
Aging to award the contract to the Parks and Recreation, which came in second
with a bid for the contract to run the programs.
KSC problems, the county
said, contributed to a downward spiral in the membership.
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 said.
Rapozo has said the
staffing and funding problems cited by the county have been rectified.