LIHUE — Three public meetings on the county’s proposed fiscal year 2019-2020 budget, which runs July 1 through June 30, will be held on May 10, 13 and 14, all from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Public testimony during all three budget meetings will be taken at the start and also at a special public hearing set for 5 p.m. Wednesday.
An update was given on planned work on Black Pot Beach Park during the council meeting Wednesday. It is scheduled to reopen with key improvements on June 4 after last year’s flooding heavily damaged the park, according to Department of Recreation Director Patrick Porter.
Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami came to the meeting to give a little clarification on Black Pot Beach after observing part of the meeting from his office, including the fact parking will not be allowed on the actual beach at Black Pot Beach, which is the only county-owned beach on Kauai.
“The community had come together with the previous administration, they came up with a draft master plan,” Kawakami said. “We have taken a position to respect that.”
Kawakami said the current administration is going to be as accommodating as it can and that they will go back to the community to seek input even after the improvements are done and the park is opened.
“This is the one beach that we are excited about as far as best management practices,” Kawakami said.
Several residents testified about the process of taking public input during the last year in the reopening of the park, thanking the county for receiving and following community recommendations.
The council also received a communication offering a donation from the Russian Center New York to participate in a peace conference to, “foster a constructive atmosphere that encourages conversation and collaboration on a multitude of issues between the United States of America and Russia with particular interest in Russian Fort Elizabeth/Pa‘ula‘ula on the west side of Kauai.”
The invitation was extended to councilmember Felicia Cowden, who received the invite from the president of the Russian Center New York, Elena Branson. The trip will take place June 2-5 with the possibility of a longer trip of May 31 through June 10. Cowden recused herself from the motion to receive the communication.
“Of particular interest to Kauai residents has been the recent dialogue surrounding the name sharing at Russian Fort Elizabeth/Pa’ula’ula on the West side of Kauai,” Cowden wrote to the council in her request to accept the donation for travel-related costs, which are estimated to be between $2,000-$3,000.
In the invitation letter from Bronson, who is also the chair of the Russian Community Council of the U.S., she states, “that Russian Center New York will be able to sponsor your round-trip airfare. Expenses will be covered also by our US sponsors.”
Bronson writes in the letter, “The Fort Ross Dialogue organized by San-Francisco based Fort Ross Conservancy and held annually with support from American and Russian companies: Chevron, Transneft, and Sovcomflot.”
The communication was received by the council, but the resolution was pulled, leaving open the possibility for the trip to Russia by Cowden, but just not officially through the county of Kauai.
The council also discussed a controversial resolution, which passed in a no-vote when they voted to receive the resolution, a formality after the 60-day deadline had passed after first being received at the March 17 council meeting with the deferral vote coming at the April 24 meeting.
Several councilmembers made clarifying statements to the public in attendance and to The Garden Island, “for the record.”
“I will not see the benefits of this raise,” Ross Kagawa said, adding that the salary raises for the council will take effect in December 2020 and he will term out by that time.
Kagawa said he thinks The Garden Island did a poor job clarifying that the current council will not see the benefit of the raises, but the council after the current configuration will reap the benefits starting at the end of 2020.
It would be a conflict of interest to vote on raises to your own salary, Kagawa later said.
Chair Arryl Kaneshiro said for the record that he voted against the raises, making earlier comments in prior meetings that he did not think the time was right for the raises.