Chair’s 3 Minutes: Tips offered for public on preparing testimony for council

The County Council’s annual budget session has begun.

On March 25, the council received Mayor Alan Arakawa’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2014. Last week, the council Budget and Finance Committee conducted its initial deliberations on the budget for the year beginning July 1.

We also held district meetings in Kihei, Pukalani and Paia, and I want to thank those who came out to share your thoughts and concerns. Your input will guide us as we make important – and difficult – decisions for the people of Maui County.

As the mayor’s budget proposal states, the county is a leader in both sustainability and economic growth. We are studying the best ways to continue investing in our people and places, while also enjoying the benefits of sound financial management.

In the 2012 general election, the voters approved a new Office of the County Auditor and gave the Department of Environmental Management new responsibilities for natural resource protection. Implementing these charter amendments is a special challenge for this budget session.

Monday, we will be at Helene Hall in Hana and Wednesday at the Lahaina Civic Center, with both meetings starting at 6 p.m.

The budget committee will conduct additional evening meetings in various districts all month, with daily daytime meetings in the Council Chambers. Please check the county website or call the Office of Council Services at 270-7838 for meeting locations, dates and times.

Email comments on the budget to

Recently, I have been asked by quite a few people about the most effective ways to prepare and submit testimony to the council. Although there are many ways to effectively communicate your ideas, I hope some of my tips can help you get started.

* Be concise. During the budget process, the council receives a significant amount of verbal and written public testimony. We consider each piece of testimony, but concise arguments help us focus and remember key points.

* Include supporting material or detailed descriptions as attachments. Beyond the body of your testimony, you may have additional supporting facts for the council. Consider appending them to your testimony, whether in email or printed form.

* Clearly state whether you support or oppose a proposal. Sometimes, we receive testimony that actually leaves us confused: Is the testifier in support or opposition? Consider stating both in the beginning and ending of your testimony your clear position on the topic.

* Prepare a written summary of your verbal testimony. If you plan on providing verbal testimony, consider preparing a written summary of your comments as well. This allows council members to refer to your comments later in the budget process and allows them to concentrate on listening to your testimony instead of trying to take notes.

* Be respectful and courteous to others. Although we may not agree on everything, everyone’s input is valued and respected. As a community that embodies the word “Aloha,” we should be able to disagree while still respecting and listening to the opinions of others.

A hui hou.

* Gladys C. Baisa is chairwoman of the Maui County Council.