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Voting explainer: Maui County charter amendment ballot questions

Maui County seal county council mayor
Casey Harlow
/
HPR

Hawaiʻi Public Radio is breaking down each county's charter amendment ballot questions.

There will be 13 charter amendment questions on the Maui County general election ballot — the most of any county — with two alternative proposals, for a grand total of 15 questions to sift through.

Commissioner Kauanoe Batangan said they started with quite a few more.

“When our body had initially met, we had 85 proposals that we decided to deliberate on,” Batangan said. “And then from there, I think we adopted, I don't know, several dozen to move forward with.”

Batangan says the charter should be a tool to guide decision-making.

"It shouldn't be a document where we do policymaking, and so I championed things like independence or independence for our election administrator and auditor, just requiring fiscal impact assessments and closing a loophole for our financial disclosure laws," Batangan said.

Questions range from how government operates to how new departments will be run.

Commission Proposal 1: Create a separate Housing Department dedicated to affordable housing; including an advisory board and Hawaiian Home Lands Liaison

  • Currently, Maui County has a Department of Housing and Human Concerns. This charter amendment would split this singular department into two: a Department of Housing and a Department of Human Concerns. This would also create a Housing Advisory Board to advise the director of Housing, and require there be a Department of Hawaiian Homelands liaison within the Department of Housing.
  • Estimated cost: $2 million

Commission Proposal 2: Department of 'Ōiwi Resources

  • This would establish a new county Department of 'Ōiwi Resources to better manage cultural resources. The department would properly manage these resources and help the county operate as a bilingual government by ensuring the county has official documents in both English and ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi.
  • Estimated cost: $400,000

Commission Proposal 3: Ethics and financial disclosures

  • Currently, the charter requires financial disclosures to be submitted within 15 days of taking office for specific officers and employees. This amendment would require financial disclosures to be submitted prior to taking office. This also puts specific language in the charter that prohibits officers and employees from using or attempting to use their position for unwarranted and financial advantages.
  • Estimated cost: less than $25,000

Commission Proposal 4: Planning Commissions and Community Plan Updates

  • This amendment would require the Maui Planning Commission have members from all residency areas. It would also allow the give the Molokaʻi Planning Commission representation of Kalaupapa.
  • Estimated cost: less than $100,000

Commission Proposal 5: Council organizational meeting, remote access, government records

  • This proposal requires the council to have interactive remote communications (via phone or internet) with the public during its meetings; establishes language to increase access to county records; and removes certain time and place requirements for organizational council meetings.
  • Estimated cost: less than $100,000

Commission Proposal 6: Fines and penalties

  • This would remove a cap on specific violations and allow the council to set the penalties through an ordinance.
  • Estimated cost: less than $25,000

Commission Proposal 7: Administrative department heads

  • This adds a provision to the charter that would prohibit the mayor from requiring a letter of resignation from a potential department head as a condition of appointment.
  • Estimated cost: less than $25,000

Commission Proposal 8: County Clerk

  • This would prohibit the county clerk and the deputy county clerk from actively working in political campaigns, including contributing to federal, state or county campaigns.
  • Estimated cost: less than $100,000

Commission Proposal 9: Police Chief

  • The first proposal requires the Maui chief of police to submit a written report to the Police Commission when they disagree with the commission’s investigations related to the department.
    • Estimated cost: less than $100,000
  • Proposal 9A, the county council's alternative, would require the chief of police to inform the commission when they disagree, but only need to submit a written report upon the commission’s request.
    • Estimated cost: less than $25,000
  • Voters will see both of these proposals on the ballot.

Commission Proposal 10: Independent Nomination Board

  • The commission version of this amendment would create a nine-member Independent Nomination Board that would recruit, evaluate and nominate appointees for boards, commissions, the county clerk, auditor, corporation counsel and prosecuting attorney. The amendment would allow boards and commission members to be paid for their work. This would also set a county clerk's term at six years.
    • Estimated cost: less than $100,000
  • The county council's alternative proposal would establish the Independent Nomination Board as an 11-member group, with two members appointed by the mayor without council approval, and the rest appointed by the council without mayor approval. This also wouldn't have jurisdiction over the auditor. This alternative does not include setting a term limit on the county clerk.
    • Estimated cost: less than $100,000
  • Both proposals eliminate a requirement that a bare majority of boards/commissions belong to the same party, and would stagger the membership of board members so that five members would serve three-year terms and four members would serve 2-year terms.

Commission Proposal 11: Impacts of Charter amendments on County taxation and spending

  • This requires the county auditor to assess, evaluate and publicize the fiscal impact of proposed charter amendments within 60 days ahead of the general election.
  • Estimated cost: less than $100,000

Council Proposal 12: Maui County Community Water Authorities

  • This would establish Maui County Community Water Authorities with regional community boards to manage water systems. This would cover state license areas in East Maui. This would also look into long-term water lease agreements with the state for domestic and agricultural needs.
  • Estimated cost: unknown

Council Proposal 13: Promoting Climate Change Adaptation

  • This would require the county to adopt a policy to promote climate change adaptation. It would also allow some county employees to telework or have alternative work schedules.
  • Estimated cost: less than $100,000

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Voters can expect to receive ballots in the mail in mid-October. Voting will close at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8.

Here's how the charter amendment questions will appear on your Maui County ballot. Read below or click here to open a new window.

Updated: October 7, 2022 at 3:25 PM HST
This story has been updated with the estimated costs as determined by the Maui County auditor.
Sabrina Bodon is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Contact her at sbodon@hawaiipublicradio.org or 808-792-8252.
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