Auditor’s report illustrates need for a county manager

Recently the Maui County auditor noticed the fire department’s chief of a serious situation in the department’s budget. For various reasons, including overtime and staffing, the fire department is experiencing close to a 40-plus percent in unbudgeted expense. If continuing unchecked, this situation will become a truly serious problem, costing the taxpayers multimillions of unbudgeted dollars.

Instead of the fire chief looking to discuss the situation with the auditor’s office there has been nothing but pushback! The auditor’s job is oversight and analysis and to oversee the budget for Maui County. They assist the mayor and his office. And, provide visibility to the council. However, it’s up to the mayor and his office to work with the auditor and the fire chief and analyze what is actually going on and to solve this problem. Unburdening the taxpayer with budget overruns should be one of the first duties of the mayor’s office.

If Maui County had a professional experienced county manager, this task would be part of their everyday duties. Actually, the problem most probably wouldn’t have occurred. The auditor would have brought the situation to the attention of the county manager and the manager would have all parties in to discuss, as professionals, what should be done.

What has happened is a travesty! Indicative of the need for professional administrative direction and oversight. Maui County deserves better and we need it as soon as possible.

Ray Phillips