Mandates or merely suggestions

LIHU‘E — The first audit out of the recently established County Auditor’s Office detailed the administration’s shortcomings on energy efficiency in part by reporting the progress it had made on a list of recommendations from the Cost Control Commission.

But when the commissioners on Monday heard from the head of that office, Ernie Pasion, they backpedaled. Members said those cost-saving measures were merely suggestions made by the late Mayor Bryan Baptiste’s administration.

The audit, released in April, states that the commission made 40 energy-saving recommendations to the county — 36 to Baptiste’s administration in 2008 plus another four in 2009 to Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s administration. The current administration has met three of those and another eight were partially implemented.

“We did not have any directive that was actually sent to the mayor,” Commission Chair Sandi Sterker said. “In 2008/2009 all we did was suggest; there was no mandate.”

Boards and Commissions Administrator John Isobe said the commission and Baptiste’s administration worked together and the recommendations that came forward were “really not something that was recommended by the commission, but rather a report prepared by the mayor’s office.

“To my knowledge, this report that was presented to the Cost Control Commission was never officially adopted by the County of Kaua‘i as an official document,” Isobe said.

For those recommendations to be adopted, the commission would have had to send a draft ordinance to the mayor, which did not happen, Isobe said.

The commission reviewed the report and made several recommendations based on it, he said.

Sterker said most of the 40 recommendations in the audit were not recommended by the commission.

“I don’t want the people here to feel that the county has not done something that the Cost Control Commission recommended, because actually many of these were not recommended,” she said, adding, “It was not up to us to implement many of these.”

Pasion had a different interpretation; all the recommendations were made by the commission.

On March 17, 2008, former Commission Chair Lorna Nishimitsu sent Baptiste two recommendations.

The first one was for the Department of Water and Public Works’ Wastewater Division to develop cost-saving opportunities.

The second was for all county departments to read the Energy Use Survey Guide and to follow the recommendations outlined in it, Pasion said.

The survey guide is the Energy Study that Baptiste’s administration came up with, which has 36 energy-saving recommendations in it that Carvalho’s administration should be implementing, he said.

On July 29, 2009, the commission made four additional energy-saving recommendations, which have not been met by the administration yet, the audit shows.

Managing Director Gary Heu asked the commission to give the administration a month or two to put together a comprehensive report on what has been done so far regarding the six recommendations he says were made by the commission.

2008 Cost Control Commission recommendations:

— The Department of Water and the Wastewater Division of the Department of Public Works should be required to develop cost-saving opportunities for their operations, through the use of alternative energy sources. These alternatives should be considered for implementation particularly during expansions or renovations to existing facilities and the construction of new facilities.

— All departments should be asked to read the Energy Use Survey Guide and to follow the recommendation outlined herein.

2009 Cost Control Commission recommendations:

— Execute a new energy savings performance contract.

— The county should engage and promote employee awareness, understanding and sense of personal and departmental responsibility among all employees for how they use energy and other resources and how they can reduce waste and improve efficiency in their daily work by creating “Employee Green Teams” in the county.

— Designate a person in each county department whose clear responsibility is to scrutinize energy expense and suggest energy savings measures.

— Designate a position to oversee performance contract, monitor rate schedules to determine appropriate rates, recommend changes in operations to qualify for lower rates, to the extent practical, separate and distribute energy use and expense data by department or facility.

The Kaua‘i County Council last May denied Carvalho’s request for a sustainability manager at $95,000 for Fiscal Year 2012. But after Carvalho told council members that he wanted to make sure the council wasn’t setting him up for failure the decision was reconsidered and the position approved.

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