New county auditor wins unanimous OK

WAILUKU – Lance Taguchi is Maui County’s new auditor.

His appointment to the position was confirmed Tuesday when the Maui County Council unanimously adopted a resolution appointing the current county deputy clerk to the new position. He will assume the position Monday for a six-year term ending in 2019.

Taguchi has worked for the county for 13 years, and he has experience in the private sector.

He also will be responsible for setting up the Office of the County Auditor.

“We went through a very thorough process,” said council Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Mike White. “We feel he will move us forward in the direction we need to go.”

White, committee Vice Chairman Riki Hokama and Council Member Don Couch were members of a Temporary Investigative Group to vet applications and make a recommendation for the auditor job. The group reviewed 17 applicants for the position.

Taguchi, who will be paid $117,000 a year, holds a master’s of accounting degree from the University of Hawaii and is a licensed certified public accountant.

In the November General Election, voters approved amending the Maui County Charter to establish the auditor’s office.

In other action, council members gave final approval to a request from Lanai Resorts to amend the state land use district classification from agricultural to urban district and a change in zoning from agricultural to heavy industrial district for around 6 acres fronting Miki Road on Lanai.

The land-use measures pave the way for expansion of an existing, adjacent 14-acre Miki Basin heavy industrial area.

According to council records, the changes would allow the relocation of certain uses such as office space, baseyards and repair facilities from a Lanai City site. The relocation would free up space in Lanai City. The request for the changes had been before the council prior to billionaire Larry Ellison taking over ownership of most of the island last year, county records show.

The council also approved three resolutions recognizing pay raises and other items negotiated earlier this year for some employees. Contracts vary from two to four years, depending on union contracts.

No funding was approved Tuesday because funding approval will be done by budget amendments later, according to county budget staff members.

Employees who will see raises in fiscal 2014, which begins Monday, include laborers, janitors, refuse collectors and equipment operators in the United Public Workers union. Also seeing raises will be clerical staff, supervisors of laborers and supervisors of clerical staff of the Hawaii Government Employees Association.

Workers excluded from HGEA’s bargaining process such as clerical staff in the departments of Personnel Services and Corporation Counsel also will get pay raises.

For council staff members, councilors gave initial approval to a bill that would provide a 4 percent salary increase for employees of the legislative branch. The employees include council committee staff members, committee analysts and secretaries. The bill needs to pass one more reading by the full council before it advances to the mayor for final action.

In other matters, members gave final approval to other measures, including:

* An amendment to the Maui County Code to add a new definition for “utility wall” and to allow one utility wall per lot up to a maximum of 7 feet tall and 7 feet wide.

* A bill to add new definitions for a wastewater treatment facility as well as changes in the code regarding to public/quasi-public districts.

* A measure increasing the appropriation for the Department of Environmental Management’s Wastewater Operations Program Sewer Fund by $1 million in the current fiscal year’s budget for electrical costs. Funds will be taken from the Alamaha Wastewater Pump Station modifications project. Funds will come from a private company conducting work in the area.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at