Our Islands, Our Future

Continuing our series on newly appointed County Department Directors, reflecting the role of government in responding to community values and needs.

Maui County Finance Director Danny Agsalog left his native home of the Philippines in 1979 to establish a new life on the Valley Isle. His work experience started with two jobs, one as a full-time supermarket stock boy and a part-time restaurant dishwasher in Wailuku. That led to enlistment in the United States Air Force and then the Air National Guard, followed by enrollment and completion of studies at the University of Hawaii at West Oahu in 1995. These experiences eventually led to two years of service as County Budget Director during Mayor Alan Arakawa’s first term in the early 2000s. Now, Agsalog has been tapped to work as the Finance Director, overseeing approximately 156 employees including those in the Division of Motor Vehicle and Real Property Taxes.

Agsalog calls his career and education journey “nontraditional” but one that involved a lot of determination and desire to serve the Maui community. “I’ve always loved Maui. Maui is no ka oi,” he says. In regard to direct service with the public, Agsalog explains he has invested money and time into customer service training and management workshops for DMV employees. He says public perceptions and feedback have improved since the work force training was offered. “It’s really about how you deal with people and just talking to the staff about the importance of customer service has helped.”

In the Real Property Taxes Division, Agsalog gives credit to staffers for their due diligence that has reduced appeals from as many as 2,000 last year to less than 800 this year. “I will not take the credit for this. We have a lot of professional people making great effort to getting things right the first time.” The purchasing section of the Finance Department has also made strides. Agsalog says employees there deal with Maui County contractors, monitoring work orders and ensuring that any changes are justifiable and necessary. “I want to be accountable to the people of Maui,” Agsalog said. “It’s important we evaluate what we’re spending and hold ourselves accountable because it’s the people’s money.”