Ethics board finds no problems with Kukui‘ula donation

By a three-to-one vote, the Kaua‘i Board of Ethics yesterday found the county committed no violations when it received $92,354 from Kukui‘ula Development Company for legislation benefiting the company’s 1,002-acre commercial, resort and residential project in Po‘ipu.

During a meeting at the Lihu‘e Civic Center, the majority of the board found no issue with the donation to cover the county’s cost for a law passed this year creating community facilities district.

The law will not just benefit Kukui‘ula, but any developers wanting such districts in their projects, ethics board chairman Michael Fernandes said.

Board member Robert Farias offered the only dissenting vote and will submit a formal opinion explaining his position.

“He feels differently on it, and he has every right to do so,” Fernandes said.

The CFD opens the way for people to pay additional taxes for swimming pools and recreational centers in their communities. The property owners would have immediate access to the facilities, although the public could also use them as well.

The law allows a developer to apply to the county to float a bond for the construction of roads, a school or playground, and tap into low-interest loans.

The ethics board took up the donation issue after Kaua‘i County Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura raised ethical questions about it.

Yukimura said the county’s acceptance of the donation was inappropriate because Kukui‘ula, through another request separate from the law creating CFD, has moved forward with its project.

She said a conflict of interest may arise when Kukui‘ula — or any developer — makes such an offer that will directly benefit a project.

Kukui‘ula leaders told government leaders of their plans for the donation as far back as 2004. County finance director Michael Tresler said he didn’t see anything wrong with the donation.

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

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