Mayor Michael Victorino strongly opposed proposed amendments by the County Council’s Governance, Ethics and Transparency Committee, which would inflate the cost of government while Maui’s economy has been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is reckless for the Council to propose any changes to the county’s organization without properly analyzing how the amendments will benefit the economy, efficiency and services of this county,” Mayor Victorino said. “The current Charter sets out the County’s policy to promote economy, efficiency and improved service in the conduct of public business.”
Mayor Victorino pointed to two Council proposed Charter amendments:
A proposal by Councilmember Mike Molina to break up the Department of Housing and Human Concerns into two departments – the Department of Human Concerns and Department of Housing, beginning July 1, 2021.
A proposal by Councilmember Shane Sinenci to establish a County Department of Agriculture.
Regarding the bifurcation of DHHC, Mayor Victorino said it is being proposed “without any clear objective goals, or even a proposed budget.”
“On this Council’s watch, 40% of the housing projects that were submitted for consideration were disapproved,” Mayor Victorino said. “The bifurcation merely splits the DHHC into two halves and does not create any additional responsibilities or fund the necessary positions required to move housing initiatives forward. The Council ultimately controls the fate of housing projects, regardless of bifurcation.
Regarding the proposed Department of Agriculture, Mayor Victorino said: “This proposal lacks the amount of analyses required to determine what this will cost to residents, the function and responsibilities of the Department, and what other essential initiatives will be cut in order to fund this new department.”
Mayor Victorino also pointed out that: “Agriculture is already a function of the Federal and State governments, and this proposal seeks to create a new department whose main function is simply to interpret related state and federal laws.”
“The Charter Commission, which will assemble in 2021, is the appropriate body to guide and make recommendations for amendments of this magnitude. It is a disservice to the residents of this County to put questions on the ballot that aren’t thoroughly vetted.”