Following the money

LIHUE — The Kauai County Council voted 5-to-1 to pass a bill that sought to appropriate funds from the general fund to pay for extra security at county-hosted events.

Mel Rapozo, council chair, voted against the bill. Councilman Arryl Kaneshiro recused himself from the vote because he is involved with some of the events.

Under Bill No. 2637, just over $43,000 will be transferred from the general fund to pay for police presence at events like the Koloa Plantation Day Parade, the Visitor Industry Charity Walk, Haena to Hanalei Run, Kauai Farm Bureau Fair and others.

The request came from the Office of Economic Development, whose grant-in-aid services were cut in this year’s budget.

“Not supporting this doesn’t mean I don’t support Relay for Life, the parades or the lights festivals,” Rapozo said.

The council cut those services with the understanding that the Office of Economic Development would try to find the money within its own budget, Rapozo said.

For Rapozo, the bill comes down to what is fair for everyone, not just the events listed in the bill.

“We have hundreds of nonprofits,” he said. “How do we tell other nonprofits no? We’re opening up a can of worms.”

It doesn’t make sense to go through a budget process just to have it changed within a few months, Rapozo added.

But Councilman Gary Hooser said he supports the bill because that money goes right back into the community.

“It’s a small amount of money. These are very worthwhile people and projects, and this is a small thing we can do to support them,” he said.

Moving forward, Councilman Ross Kagawa said he hopes to work with Darryl Perry, chief of the Kauai Police Department, to come up with ways to reduce overtime, when it comes to providing security at events.

“Possibly offering comp time during times when it’s not so busy. You may have officers who live on the Westside who say they want to work at the Waimea Town Celebration,” he said. “I hope we can come up with those types of solutions and save taxpayer money.”

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said she’s happy to bring back the funding for added security at events.

“I’d love to see some more cost-effective alternatives, but until they come forth, we shouldn’t be cutting out services,” she said.

Also during the meeting, the Kauai County Council unanimously passed two bills at first reading that seek to transfer money from the general fund to pay for equipment for the Kauai Fire Department.

Bill No. 2639 asks that $151,000 be transferred to KFD for the purchase of 50 automated external defibrillators. Bill No. 2640 seeks to transfer $390,000 to KFD to purchase 60 self-contained breathing apparatuses.

Both measures are up for a public hearing, which will be held Nov. 16.

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