Your Government: Commission looking at 27 charter amendments

Following meetings with residents that began last year seeking input to assess proposals, the Kaua‘i Charter Commission has forged a list of 27 possible charter amendments that could be put to voters for the Nov. 7 General Election.

Some of the key proposals call for term limits for the Kaua‘i County Council, the creation of council districts, full-time council members, creation of a county fire commission, spending limitations by government and a county manager form of government.

Approval of all or most of the proposals would allow residents to shape the government they want for Kaua‘i County.

And only the voters, through future charter amendment ballot measures, could change the effect of the ones that might be approved this year.

Approval of most would dramatically alter the fabric of the county’s constitution, the Kaua‘i County Charter. Commission representatives are to make a presentation on the 27 proposals during an informational meeting it has scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Kapa‘a Middle School cafeteria.

The list may change or be fine-tuned, as the commission hears from residents on the type of charter amendments they may want to see put on the November election ballot.

A portion of the upcoming meeting has been set aside for public comment and discussion. The commission has developed, and apparently massaged, the 27 proposals since March of last year, suggesting the proposals have merit for further review.

Some of the key proposals asked:

• Whether there should be term limits for the Kaua‘i County Council;

• Whether council districts should be set up. If districts were formed, a legislator, in theory, could be more responsive to concerns of residents from his election district;

• Whether limitations should be imposed on those who vote for an at-large council candidate;

• Whether council candidates should work full time;

• Whether all county public records should be posted on the county’s Web site;

• Whether an Office of Commissions and Boards should be established;

• Whether the terms of board and commission members should be staggered;

• Whether members of boards and commissions should be appointed by the mayor and approved by the council;

• Whether to change the name, responsibility and authority of the Kaua‘i Cost Control Commission to the county’s Revenue & Cost Control Commission;

• Whether the charter commission should become a permanent body of seven members serving staggered terms appointed by the mayor and approved by the council;

• Whether a new county parks and recreation department should be established;

• Whether spending limits should be established for the county’s yearly operating budget.

• Whether there should be a separate real property tax department;

• Whether the signature requirements for initiatives and referendum should be reduced from 20 percent to 5 percent. If approved, the charter amendment would increase the opportunities for residents to change laws, including zoning laws, they feel hurt the county.

• Whether the number of signature requirements for the recall of an elected official should be reduced from 20 percent to 5 percent. If this proposal is approved, residents could expect to have even more accountability from elected officials.

• Whether a county manager form of government should be set up, in which a fiscal person, for instance, would run the county on a day-to-day basis, while the mayor performs ceremonial duties.

• Whether the county attorney, now appointed by the mayor, should be elected to a four-year term.

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


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