Taking the decision to the people

LIHUE — When the Kauai County Council meets Wednesday, it will discuss two resolutions which propose taking two pieces of legislation to the people.

One resolution, No. 2016-42, seeks to put the council-manager form of government on the charter, to let the people decide if that’s a form of government they want for the island.

The idea of a county manager was introduced as a way to hold government officials accountable and remove some politics from the system.

Kauai County operates under a mayor-council system in which council members are elected to serve as the county’s legislative body, and a mayor is independently elected to serve as the county’s chief executive.

Under a county manager system, the role of mayor would become more ceremonial, and the council would hire a professional manager to carry out the executive functions of running government operations.

According to the resolution, the county council will have the power to vote for a county manager. The candidate must meet specific qualifications like: a master’s degree in public administration, public affairs or public policy and two years of experience in an administrative position in local government.

Additionally, the county manager will serve as the chief executive officer of the county and will be responsible for managing county affairs like appointing government employees, attending council meetings and preparing the annual budget.

Another decision that will be up to the voters is how to fund the $100 million in backlogged road repairs.

When a bill to increase the General Excise Tax was denied, the council was left to find another way to fund road repair projects.

At a previous meeting, Councilmember KipuKai Kuali’i suggested creating a charter amendment that would allow Kauai residents to decide how they want their taxes to be used to fix roads.

According to the resolution, No. 2016-48, residents will decide whether to establish a County Roads Resurfacing/Reconstruction Backlog Fund, which would be funded by $1 million of real property tax revenues and $1 million of transient accommodation tax.

Any balance remaining in the fund after the end of the fiscal year would remain in the fund and would accumulate for 20 years. It will not be used for other purposes, besides road resurfacing, repair, and reconstruction projects.

The county council will also hold public hearings on two bills:

w Bill No. 2629, which proposes prohibiting residents from smoking in a car with children under 18.

w Bill No. 2633, which proposes a tax benefit for people who use their property as long-term affordable housing rentals.

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