Kauai County Councilman Ross Kagawa missed eight of the 11 budget sessions that led to Friday's decision-making on the 2015-16 spending bill.
A review of budget hearing minutes and excuse memorandums showed that Ross skipped the departmental review meetings held on March 27 and 31, as well as April 2, 7, 9, 13, 14 and 16. And he left at noon on one of the three days he did attend.
Council Chair Mel Rapozo and Councilman Gary Hooser each missed two and a half sessions. Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura missed about 90 minutes of one session. None of the other Council members missed any budget sessions, which typically last a full day.
The sessions include a revenue projection for the county and presentations by 18 county departments, where they defend their budget requests and discuss their objectives for the coming year. A review of the minutes showed that Councilmembers questioned department heads and staff at length about spending practices and upcoming needs.
Ross was present only for the sessions with the departments of finance and parks and recreation, and for the first of two sessions with the department of public works and its capital improvements budget.
Yet he participated vigorously in Council discussions on Thursday and Friday that led to adopting the county's budget. He also advanced what he described as a “bold” proposal to cut $1 million from a post-employment benefits fund.
That proposal died, with Budget Committee Chair Arryl Kaneshiro casting the swing vote against it.
Hooser, who recently launched his re-election bid with a promise to keep "property taxes for homeowners from going up once again,” failed to convince any of his colleagues to impose a property tax cut, which would've added $1.3 million to the budget shortfall.