Charter moves forward

LIHUE — The Charter Review Commission is one step closer in solidifying the charter Kauai residents will vote on in November.

On Monday, commissioners approved findings, purposes and ballot questions for four sections of the charter.

Those sections dealt with: the percentages for charter amendments and county clerk authority; clarifying duties of the fire chief and his authority to assign duties; the civil defense and emergency management agency and establishing a permanent charter review commission.

As per the charter, the fire chief will have the responsibility to appoint, train, equip, supervise and discipline personnel in accordance with the rules and regulations, to provide a safer community through effective leadership and programs in fire prevention, to control and manage for all property in the custody of the fire department and execute such other powers and duties as may be prescribed by the law.

The charter also says that it’s the mayor’s duty to appoint fire commissioners.

At the end of the section, the charter asks voters if the duties of the fire chief should be clarified to include duties currently performed such as addressing hazardous materials, emergency medical services and ocean safety, and shall the reference to the mayor’s authority be removed.

The charter also states that when it comes to the emergency management agency, the council will provide in the annual budget an emergency management contingency fund of no less than $50,000.

The approved ballot question for emergency management is: “shall the county Civil Defense Agency be renamed the Emergency Management Agency and its organization clarified consistent with state law?”

Another section, which spelled out the creation of zoning board of appeals, was deferred until the May meeting.

During the meeting, commissioners looked at the proposed charter, which was approved by the county council, and discussed any potential changes.

They have until next month to make any necessary changes, said Allan Parachini, chair of the charter review commission.

“We need to be certain this is what we’re comfortable with,” he said.

During the meeting, Mia Ako said the public needs to be aware of the process.

“What the public needs to know is that the charter is that every 10 years, the charter is reviewed, and then it sunsets for 10 years,” she said.

After December, the charter residents vote on will be the charter for the next decade, and changes won’t be made, Russell Wong, who was sworn in as a charter review commissioner Monday, added.

In an effort to make sure the charter and its intents are understood, the commission voted to amend it, adding in the timeline for the next charter review commission.

Additional ways to educate the public will be discussed at the next meeting, which will take place May 23.

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