End of Baptiste’s first 100 days spent crafting his $95-million county budget

Mayor Bryan Baptiste spent the last days of his first 100 days as mayor hunkered down in the Lihu’e Civic Center, too busy to even talk to reporters about his first 100 days while working on his administration’s first operating budget.

The fiscal-year 2003-04 budget, for the fiscal year beginning Tuesday, July 1, as required by the county charter was delivered to the County Council Friday, with a proposed operating budget of over $95 million, and capital improvement project budget of $17.7 million.

During the 100-plus days since his inauguration on Dec. 1, much time and effort has been spent talking about the island’s drug problem.

“I’ve made no secret about it,” Baptiste said. “The war on drugs is my number-one priority. We cannot just keep talking about the drug problem. We must recognize it, confront it, and solve it.”

In a prepared statement, the mayor said his first 100 days in office serve as a stepping stone toward a collective vision of a better Kaua’i, and that initiatives taken both within and without of the budget process are aimed at changing county government to be more responsive to the people it serves.

Restructuring certain departments and offices in county government, including bringing the county Department of Public Works’ recreation division under the Offices of Community Assistance, will allow OCA to provide integrated programs for youth, elderly and the general populace, and is seen by Baptiste as a way to gain efficiency and effectiveness.

“The possibilities of intergenerational interaction will prove invaluable in the transition between the best of the past to the endless potential of the future,” Baptiste said. “It is this retention and expansion that will lead to greatness.”

Other restructuring plans include creation of a grants division in the county Office of Economic Development, to go after pools of untapped resources.

The county’s tourism specialist in the OED, Nalani Brun, will focus on “product enhancement,” or beautifying Kaua’i and maintaining its allure as a world-class destination, he continued.

Pooling of county resources, such as vehicles and electronic equipment, is being encouraged in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of resources, he concluded.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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