6. HAWAI`I: Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund
QUESTION: Shall the Charter of the County of Hawai`i be amended to allow monies in the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund to pay salary, wages, and benefits for staff dedicated to supporting the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation and Maintenance Funds?To see the proposed language changes and Fiscal Impact Statements prepared by the County of Hawai`i Department of Finance, go to https://www.hawaiicounty.gov/Home/Components/News/News/2444/ .CHARTER COMMISSION SUMMARY: This proposal would allow monies in the public access, open space, and natural resources preservation fund to pay salary, wages, and benefits for staff dedicated to supporting the purposes of the fund and the public access, open space, and natural resources preservation maintenance fund. The commission finds that allowing the fund to be used only for purchase or acquisition of lands and easements in the County of Hawai`i and to pay the principal, interest and premium due with respect to bonds issued for the purpose of the fund, as previous charters do, does not adequately support an adaptable and responsive administration of the fund.FISCAL IMPACT: This proposal could reduce expenditures in the General Fund to cover staff time working on authorized activities. The entry level salary for a Property Management Technician, that may be assigned this type of work, is $3,185 per month or $38,220 per year. Only actual time spent working on allowed activities would be charged to the fund. This proposal could reduce the amount available for the purchase of additional parcels in accordance with this section if funds are used for salaries and wages.WHAT YOUR VOTE MEANS: A "YES" vote means that you are IN FAVOR of the amendment and the Charter of the County of Hawai`i will be changed as proposed. A "NO" vote means that you are AGAINST the amendment and the Charter of the County of Hawai`i will not be changed as proposed.ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR: -The effectiveness of the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation and Maintenance Funds (PONC and Maintenance Funds) would improve by paying for staff specifically assigned to support the purposes of the program, which includes acquiring more properties, securing more matching funds, awarding more nonprofit stewardship grants, and reducing the backlog on the property acquisitions list. -Paying for staff from the PONC Fund would save Hawai`i County money drawn from the general fund, and would mean that PONC staff would not be dependent on the general fund for support during a fiscal crisis.-The Hawai`i County Department of Finance would continue to have the flexibility to optimize how staff is assigned to support the PONC and Maintenance Funds.ARGUMENTS AGAINST: -The term "staff" is ambiguous and doesn't guarantee that a dedicated full-time person would administer the PONC and Maintenance Funds. -"Staff" could mean that more than one person would be paid a salary, wages, and benefits from the PONC Fund, which could deplete the fund faster, and compromise the purpose of the program to preserve the land and easements. -Hawai`i County should comply with Article 42 of the Hawai`i County Code: Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation, Section 2-218, and provide adequate staff so that the PONC and Maintenance Funds can be used to acquire more properties and easements.
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