Volunteering for county boards a way to serve community

I encourage every resident of Lanai, Maui and Molokai to consider applying to serve on a county board, just as I did before joining the County Council.

The current application deadline is Dec. 31. The application form and related information are at mauicounty.gov/boards.

For most boards, the mayor makes nominations, which are reviewed by a council committee before being considered by the full council.

Boards assist and advise county departments in decision-making. They serve as a formal liaison between the public and the agency.

In addition, some boards have independent decision-making authority, based on the Maui County Charter or state law. For example, the Lanai, Maui and Molokai planning commissions approve or deny applications for development in designated coastal zones known as special management areas.

Some boards have seen their roles evolve. For instance, the Cost of Government Commission now is advisory to the newly created Office of the County Auditor.

The council will consider Mayor Arakawa’s next annual slate of board nominees early in the new year. Nominations to fill board vacancies are reviewed throughout the year.

At a meeting last Monday, the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee recommended adoption of a resolution appointing E. Gayle Long to the Cost of Government Commission for a term expiring on March 31, 2018. The resolution is expected to be considered at the Dec. 20 council meeting.

There are 34 boards, some of which have technical or geographic qualifications, though most are open to all Maui County residents. Appointees typically serve five-year terms.

For many boards, the most important criterion for appointment is the willingness and capacity to attend scheduled meetings. Unfortunately, many boards often cancel meetings because they lack a quorum.

Serving on a board is strictly voluntary; no monetary compensation is provided. But such service is a rewarding and significant way to help the community.

When I served on the Salary Commission, the decisions were challenging. But I felt the body fulfilled an important function – and I learned a lot about government in the process.

I commend and thank all board members for their time and dedication in making Maui County a better place for everyone.

A hui hou.

* Gladys C. Baisa is chairwoman of the Maui County Council and holds the council’s Pukalani/Kula/Ulupalakua area residency seat. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters.