LIHU‘E — Three bills were passed by the Kaua‘i County Council this week, two of which will increase fees for drivers on Kaua‘i and one of which will fund an upcoming special election.
Bill No. 2832 and No. 2833 will raise fees for various driver’s services, including the price to renew or reinstate driver’s licenses as well as vehicle registration and titling fees. Both passed second readings during the council’s Wednesday morning meeting and, if signed by Mayor Derek Kawakami, will become law.
With the passage of Bill No. 2832, the cost of new or duplicate vehicle titles will increase from $5 to $10; duplicate emblems will rise from fifty cents to $1, and registration fees will increase from $17 to $20.
In a similar fashion, the passage of Bill No. 2833 will result in a bump up in prices for new and renewal driver’s licenses. Those ages 25 to 71 will see an increase in renewal fees from $32 to $40, while prices for those ages 16 to 24 will rise from $16 to $20. Those age 72 or older would pay $10, up from $8 before.
Fees for reinstating suspended driver’s licenses would double from $30 to $60.
Bill No. 2833 also alters the language of the law regarding written driving tests to include offering both written and oral tests either in-person or online. The price of such tests will also increase from $2 to $10.
“The fees that we have now in place have not changed since 2009,” county Finance Department Director Reiko Matsuyama told the council in August at the bill’s introduction. “We are comparably less than all of the other counties. The underlying rationale is that we like to keep up with inflation, we want to cover our administrative costs and we want to keep our fees aligned with the other counties throughout the state.”
Both of those bills passed unanimously and without debate.
The council also unanimously passed a third bill — 2835 — which funds the upcoming special election for county prosecuting attorney, appropriating $475,000 for the purpose.
Two candidates have thus far filed to run in that election: Acting Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Like and former County Councilmember and Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri.
Several members of the council expressed their frustration with the need to fund a special election following the resignation of Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar, who left the position less than a year into his third, four-year term.
“It is pretty disheartening when someone doesn’t serve out their term and it costs us, potentially, almost half a million dollars to run an election,” said Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro.
Kaneshiro’s words were echoed by fellow Councilmembers Felicia Cowden, Billy DeCosta and KipuKai Kuali‘i.
“I think not only should you be considerate about finishing out your term, but running for a county position or taking a county position and then leaving for a private-sector offer, knowing ahead of time you’re gonna leave,” DeCosta said, “it puts us in a bad spot.”
Councilmember Luke Evslin shared similar frustrations, but took a somewhat softer tone.
“You know, I think it’s gonna happen again in the future,” Evslin said. “Personal things happen in people’s lives which sometimes force them to leave office. You never know what’s going on, so we have to be prepared and not have to spend half a million dollars every time.”
Members of the council widely expressed a desire for changes to be made to the County Charter to prevent similar situations in the future.
A request for a statement on whether or when Kawakami intends to sign the bills into law was not responded to by press time Thursday.
Kaleb Lay, reporter, can be reached at 647-0329 or email@example.com.