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Charter change to County Manager dies in Council Committee

One of the most controversial charter amendments of the Maui County Council’s 2016 calendar, which would have allowed a fundamental change in county governance from a “strong mayor” to council-manager, died in committee Wednesday.

The measure would have allowed a proposed charter amendment to be brought forward to this years election ballot proposing a county manager form of government. The County would hire a professional manager, appointed by the Council to oversee the County’s administrative operations and implement policies established by the legislative body. The county manager system is regarded as an alternative to the current mayor-council government.

The council formed an 11-member special committee, composed of community volunteers, to provide a written recommendation on whether establishing a county manager form of government would improve the County of Maui’s management and operation. The measure passed the special committee 6-3 in favor of the resolution.

The County Council’s Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs (PIA) chaired by Mike Victorino deliberated the matter for two days where it later failed in a narrow 4-5 vote. The committee considered a recommendation from the Special Committee on County Governance, endorsing a county manager form of government where a managing director shall be appointed by the council to function as the county’s chief operating officer, with an elected ceremonial mayor.

Those voting in favor: White, Guzman, Cochran, & Victorino
Those opposing the measure: Carroll, Baisa, Hokama,  Couch, & Crivello

The vote comes after a recessed full day committee discussion on Monday, where members of the public came to testify.

“Timing wasn’t on our side for this proposal,” Victorino said. “There were a lot of legal and administrative questions raised, but we did our best to try and address all within a very limited time-frame.

“Nevertheless, I want to thank my committee and all who came out to testify on this important issue, especially the members of the special committee, chaired by Tony Takitani.”

A copy of the full recommendation (Committee Report 16-95) is available

Victorino said members of the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee expressed discomfort in rushing out a proposal that has not been fully vetted that could expose the county to potential operational conflicts and legal issues.

The charter is the County of Maui’s constitutional document. A charter amendment can be proposed by the council upon adoption of a resolution passed on two readings by a two-thirds vote of its membership. Any proposed charter amendments are subject to approval by the public at the general election ballot on Nov. 8.

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