Your Government — Audit of solid waste division delayed

LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i County Council this week deliberated over resolutions aimed at stopping illegal drugs and invasive species from making their way to Kaua‘i aboard passenger ships, and to expand the county’s Sunshine Market to include the sale of processed goods for the first time.

Council members, however, held up action on a resolution calling for a performance audit of the Kaua‘i County Public Works Solid Waste Division.

The legislators said they wanted a consultant to continue working on the upgrading of the county’s integrated trash disposal plan before giving more thought to any audit of the division.

During its meeting at the historic County Building Wednesday, the council approved a resolution asking Mayor Bryan Baptiste to consider setting up a process to gather input from Sunshine Market vendors before the sale, if any, of processed goods like honey and goat cheese occurs at the markets.

Council members approved a resolution asking members of the state Legislature to authorize leaders in the Harbors Division of the state Department of Transportation to impose and collect fees from international passenger-ship companies and the Hawaii Superferry to establish funds for drug-interdiction and invasive-species-prevention programs.

Yukimura, who introduced the legislation, says the program is needed due to an increase in passenger ship visits in Hawai‘i.

On Kaua‘i, the pleasure ships make stops at Nawiliwili Harbor.

The costs to run the program will be secured from state harbor fees paid to the state.

In addressing the council on another matter, Wailua resident Glenn Mickens insisted the legislators approve a resolution proposing a performance audit of the Kaua‘i County Public Works Solid Waste Division.

During testimony, Mickens said the council had appropriated $500,000 in its current operating budget to perform audits of county departments.

Even if the county leaders haven’t yet prioritized what departments are to be audited first, Mickens said, an audit of the Public Works Department is desperately needed.

Mickens said road repairs along Waipouli Road in the Kawaihau District have occurred, but, in his opinion, the asphalt work will wash away in the first big rain this year.

“Things like this are happening all over the island , and once an audit is done, hopefully the public and the media will exert pressure on those in command, and things will change for the better,” Mickens said in written testimony sent to the council.

Proper planning by Public Works officials, Mickens indicated, will prevent the wasting of taxpayers’ funds.

County Public Works officials say road-paving and road improvement projects are ongoing and that the work is up to government standards.

According to a county official, council members took no action on the resolution partly because they want work to continue on the updating of the county’s integrated solid waste management program.

Public Works officials have come under fire by some council members and residents for not having moved fast enough in upgrading the plan.

The delay occurred after County Engineer Cesar Portugal stepped down to take another county position, and the ball didn’t start rolling on upgrading the plan until Portugal’s replacement, Donald Fujimoto, took the job last May.

Public Works officials also have been criticized for not coming up with an alternative for the Kekaha Landfill in a timely fashion.

Although the state Department of Health has given approval to the county for the vertical expansion of the facility, extending its life by five years or so, the clock is ticking as to the facility’s usability.

County officials say a solution is in the air, meaning the council’s approval of the vertical expansion of the landfill and use of alternate waste disposal technologies may be forthcoming.

The vertical expansion of the landfill may run up against challenges, as Kekaha residents have put up with living next to the landfill for more than 25 years, and want a landfill located elsewhere on the island.

County officials, meanwhile, say they want to keep an open mind in selecting an alternate waste disposal method, but they are leaning toward waste-to-energy technology because it has worked in communities on the Mainland and will create electricity that will reduce dependence, in a small way, on oil imports.

Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and lchang@ kauaipubco.com.

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