KEALAKEHE – A proposal to create a department of agriculture under the County of Hawaii was postponed after getting a lukewarm reception from the Hawaii County Council.
Councilwoman Margaret Wille wants to let voters decide on whether or not the new branch of local government is needed to deal with the Big Island’s various farming and invasive pest issues. She introduced Bill 163 during the Council Committee on Agriculture, Water and Sustainability meeting in Kealakehe on Wednesday (March 16th).
Councilmembers said they appreciate Wille’s efforts on behalf of Big Island ag but had numerous questions and concerns about the details. Some suggested it may be more prudent to look at ways to bolster the division of the County Department of Research and Development that specializes in agriculture.
There is already a Department of Agriculture at the state level.
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ARTICLE VII, OF THE HAWAII COUNTY CHARTER (2014), BY ADDING A NEW CHAPTER ESTABLISHING A DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND AN AGRICULTURE COMMISSION.
BE IT ORDAINED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE COUNTY OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. Article VII, of the Hawai`i County Charter (2014), is amended by adding a new chapter to read as follows:
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Section 7- . Organization.
There shall be a department of agriculture consisting of a director of agriculture, an agriculture commission, and the necessary staff.
Section 7- . Statement of Policy.
It is declared to be the policy of the county to support policies and practices that promote agricultural self sufficiency, protect and preserve the indigenous heritage of agricultural resources, and promote family farms and community cooperatives necessary to promote food security on Hawai`i island.
Section 7- . Director.
The director shall be appointed by the mayor, confirmed by the council and may be removed by the mayor.
Section 7- . Qualifications.
The director shall have a minimum of three years of experience in the fields of both conventional and organic agriculture, a degree in agriculture, and a minimum of three years in an administrative capacity.
Section 7- . Powers, Duties and Functions.
The powers, duties, and functions of the department of agriculture shall be further prescribed by ordinance and shall be exercised and performed by the department.
Section 7- . Agriculture Commission.
a) There shall be an agriculture commission consisting of nine members who shall be appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the council. One member shall be a resident of each council district. The terms of the members shall be as prescribed in section 13- 4. The agriculture commission shall advise the department on issues related to the functions of the department, and shall exercise any other powers related to the functions of the department that may be delegated to it by ordinance.
b) Commission members shall serve staggered five-year terms. Upon the appointment of new members to the commission, one member shall be appointed to a term of one year, two for a term of two years, two for a term of three years, two for a term of four years, and two for a term of five years. Members initially appointed for a term of one or two years shall be eligible to succeed themselves for an additional full term.
c) A member may be removed upon recommendation by the mayor and the approval of the council.
d) No member whose term has expired shall continue to serve on the commission, except that if no successor has been appointed and confirmed, the member may, at the discretion of the member, continue to serve until a successor is appointed and confirmed. Existing vacancies shall be filled prior to replacing any member whose term has expired but is willing to continue serving until the existing vacancies are filled.
e) Any vacancy occurring in the commission shall be filled for the unexpired term.
f) Members shall receive no compensation but shall be reimbursed for necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties. Necessary expenses may be paid in advance as per diem allowance.
g) The affirmative vote of a majority of those present shall be sufficient to make any action valid.”
SECTION 2. New material is underscored. When revising, compiling, or printing these charter provisions for inclusion in the Charter of the County of Hawai`i, the reviser need not include the underscoring.
SECTION 3. If any provision of this ordinance or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the ordinance which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end, the provisions of this ordinance are severable.
SECTION 4. Upon adoption of this ordinance, this council, by appropriate resolution, shall provide that this amendment be submitted to the electorate of Hawai`i County for approval in the 2016 general election.
SECTION 5. Upon approval of the charter amendment proposed in this ordinance by a majority of voters voting on this legislation in the 2016 general election, as duly certified, this ordinance shall take effect at twelve o’ clock meridian on December 5, 2016.