Charter amendments explained

LIHU‘E — The first side of the state general election ballot has federal, state and county office elections. The second side gives residents the opportunity to vote on proposed amendments to the Kaua‘i County Charter.

The Charter Review Commission, a seven-member, appointed board, approved this summer these questions to be on the ballot. Following is a brief explanation of each question, in order they appear on the ballot.

Relating to Negligence Claims: Shall Section 23.06, establishing a time limit for negligence claims against the county, be amended to comply with state law?

As it currently stands, anyone alleging injury by the negligence of the county has six months to submit a written claim. This amendment would put the county in line with state law, which allows up to two years.

The language of Section 23.06 puts it out of compliance with state law, which supersedes the county, anyway, in a court of law.

Relating to Police Chief Qualifications: Shall police chief qualifications (Section 11.04) be increased to require fifteen (15) years law-enforcement experience and a bachelor’s degree?

The county charter currently outlines that the Kaua‘i Police Department chief must have at least five years of training and experience in law enforcement, and at least three years in an administrative role.

The amendments would require the chief to have at least 15 years work experience, 10 as a peace officer in a full-service law-enforcement agency or public sector, and at least three of those in an administrative role as a lieutenant or higher rank. The amendment also adds the requirement of a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice, business administration, public administration or similar administrative field.

While hiring current KPD Chief Todd Raybuck, the Kaua‘i Police Commission recommended adding more requirements for future chief candidates.

Relating to Ethics Disclosures: Shall the list of county officials required to file ethics disclosures (Section 20.04) be expanded to include the managing director, agency and division heads, and regulatory employees?

Currently, the charter only requires elected officials, department heads and deputies, the purchasing administrator and members of boards and commissions to disclose business and local real-estate holdings.This amendment would specifically add the managing director, all agency and division heads, and regulatory employees, such as building-permit inspectors and liquor-control investigators.

Relating to Prosecutor Vacancy: Shall the mayor, with the approval of the Council, fill a vacancy of less than 18 months in the Prosecuting Attorney’s position if a first deputy is unable to fill the position (Section 9A.05)?

This housekeeping amendment establishes how the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney may fill a vacancy of one year to 18 months.

The current language of the charter states that if there is a vacancy of less than a year, the first deputy would step in as the prosecuting attorney. If a vacancy is longer than 18 months, a special election would be held. For the time between that — one year and 18 months — which is not established in the charter, this amendment proposes the first deputy to fill the position for that time. The amendment also allows the mayor, with council approval, to appoint a prosecuting attorney if there is no deputy prosecutor.

Relating to County Engineer Qualifications: Shall an individual who has extensive work and supervisory experience in an engineering or related field also be qualified to serve as the County Engineer, head of the Department of Public Works?

This amendment eliminates a registered-engineer qualification for the county engineer. This position oversees the Department of Public Works, the largest department in the county, and has become more in line with a supervisory, management role. Previous engineer tasks are now completed by engineers in the department.

The language would go from “The county engineer shall be a registered engineer…” to “The county engineer may but is not required to be a registered engineer…”

Relating to Water Board Manager Qualifications: Shall an individual who has extensive work and supervisory experience in an engineering or related field also be qualified to serve as manager and chief engineer of the Department of Water?

Like the county engineer position in DPW, the county has had trouble hiring a Department of Water manager, and the Chater Review Commission found that this is a more administrative role. This amendment would narrow the scope of experience to allow a qualified manager with engineering experience who may or may not be an engineer registered with the state to fill the position.

The full text of the charter amendments can be found on


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