How to participate in council public hearings

LIHU‘E — While public meetings are physically closed to the public per an emergency rule by Gov. David Ige, the Kaua‘i County Council is offering another way for constituents to join in.

Tomorrow, the council will hold a public hearing for the Mayor’s fiscal year 2020-2021 budget, which residents can offer their thoughts on at 8:30 a.m. In addition to written testimony, the council has started offering residents the chance to participate remotely through oral testimony via Zoom.

The public is required to request an oral testimony slot at least one hour prior to the meeting to cokcouncil@kauai.gov or by calling 241-4188. A request should include name, telephone number, email address and the agenda item the testimony concerns.

On May 13, the council held a public hearing to establish the real property tax rates, and for bills relating to and financing the Capital Improvements Project (CIP) and Operating budgets. This meeting lasted about 10 minutes. In the past, these meetings have been hours long.

Tax rates will remain the same for a majority of residents, except for an increased tax rate for about 380 high-value, residential investor properties. This will add about $2.3 million in revenue to be used in the housing revolving fund for houseless and affordable-housing initiatives. The current residential investor property tax rate is $8.05 and is scheduled to increase to $9.40 in the Fiscal Year 2020-21 per $1,000 of assessed value.

When the council received the fiscal year 2021 supplemental budget in early May, it included about $10.7 million in cuts from the initial budget proposal in March. After one additional cut by the council, this left the county with a proposed $250,745,757 operating budget and CIP budget of $33,642,237.

At its May 15 meeting, the council reviewed the Mayor’s May Submittal Budget, noting the newly proposed position of Deputy Managing Director. The Mayor’s Office proposed moving a project manager role from within the Department of Public Works into its office. The move came with a proposed $31,566 salary increase for the broader project management role across the county.

Councilmembers had no issue with the move, but disagreed with a pay increase and voted to renumber and revert the position title back to a Program Admin Officer II at $91,752. The savings will be sent to the Unassigned Fund Balance, which will reduce the use of the fund balance.

Aside from this cut, the council did not vote on any other reductions or additions to the budget because the Mayor’s Office had provided a leaner supplementary budget.

The public may also submit written testimony or comments via email to countiltestimony@kauai.gov; fax 241-6349; mail to Office of the County Clerk, Council Services Division at 4396 Rice Street, Suite 209, Lihu’e, Hawai’i 96766.

Council meetings may be watched at kauai.gov/Webcast-Meetings.

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Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.

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