About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs June 24, 2011

Meleana Ulrich-Manuel and her Hula Halau ke `Olu Makani O Mauna Loa perform tonight at Kilauea Visitor Center.

PUBLIC HEARINGS ON THE `AINA KOA PONO project would be held in Hilo, Kona and on O`ahu, according to a sample public notice prepared by Hawaiian Electric Companies for the Public Utilities Commission.
     The sample notice also provides supportive testimony for the $350 million refinery and biofuel farm. It says the Biodiesel Supply Contract with `Aina Koa Pono-Ka`u “will provide sustainable, locally grown and processed biodiesel for electric generation in Hawai`i. With planned operation in the Ka`u region of Hawai`i Island, the project will initially supply approximately 16 million gallons of biodiesel for HELCO’s Keahole Power Plant. The AKP Biodiesel Contract is an important step in reaching Hawai`i’s goal of 70 percent of energy for electricity and transportation from clean sources by 2030, which includes the renewable portfolio standard of 40 percent of electric sales from renewable sources by 2030, as required by State law.”
Mina Morita, the new Director of the
PUC, oversees the scheduling of
public hearings on rate increases.
     The proposed notice also maintains that the AKP project “will contribute to achieving State energy policy goals such as stimulating the local agriculture industry; decreasing dependence on imported fossil fuels, primarily oil; reducing the percentage of the gross state product exported annually for energy, contributing to energy independence and security; lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and other local economic benefits.”
     Hawaiian Electric says the surcharge would add about $1.75 to $2.10 per month to a typical residential customer bill.
     The PUC will determine whether, when and where public hearings would be held.

GOV. NEIL ABERCROMBIE is cutting some $133 million for the 2012 and $251 million for the 2013 state budget. In a statement issued yesterday, he said:
     “The budget passed by the legislature requires our Administration to operate with hundreds of millions less than we believed necessary to restore core government functions. Despite tax increases passed by the legislature, services and programs will still have to be significantly cut. 
Gov. Neil Abercrombie
     “I have asked all departments to work together in a deliberate and thoughtful process that will identify programs that may be affected. In recent weeks, our administration began discontinuing financial support of programs that are valuable but can no longer be sustained, such as Vanpool Hawai`i and the State Pharmacy Assistance Program. These cuts and others that follow will be difficult but the financial constraints we face allow for no other course of action. 
     “This in no way alters our commitment to our three-part plan to get Hawai`i moving forward by creating good jobs; transforming government and providing taxpayers with the best value for their dollar; and investing in our priorities and future.”
     Ka`u residents are still waiting to find out if the proposed disaster shelter and new gym for Ka`u High School will be put on hold because of the state deficit.

RETIREMENT AGE FOR STATE WORKERS goes up to 65 years of age, and new workers must put more money into the retirement program to come out with the same benefits as current workers. Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law House Bill 1038, which begins to address the state’s unfunded liability for its retirement system. “We are addressing the very same problem that many other states are struggling with. It’s a problem which represents a growing burden on governments and taxpayers,” said Kalbert Young, Director of the state Department of Budget and Finance. “This measure will help curtail and minimize the future growth in the overall pension liability,” he said. 
     Currently, the state’s liability for the Employees Retirement System is approximately $7 billion. To address this rising cost, among other things, this Act will affect future employees by:
     • Raising the retirement age for certain new employees from 55 to 60 years old, and for most others from 62 to 65 years old
     • Increasing the number of years for state employees to be “vested” to receive retirement benefits from five years to 10 years; and
     • Raising the employee and employer contribution rates.

BUSINESSES AND WORKERS IN KA`U who expense their transportation costs on their federal taxes will get some relief for the second half of the year. The IRS has increased the expense rate to 55.5 cents per mile, raising from the 51 cents per mile that can be expensed for the first half of the year. “This year’s increased gas prices are having a major impact on individual Americans. The IRS is adjusting the standard mileage rates to better reflect the recent increase in gas prices,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We are taking this step so the reimbursement rate will be fair to taxpayers.”
     While gasoline is a significant factor in the mileage figure, other items enter into the calculation of mileage rates, such as depreciation and insurance and other fixed and variable costs. 

Tim Tunison
A BACKYARD FOREST RESTORATION WORKSHOP takes place tomorrow at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Tim Tunison teaches step-by-step methods of ecosystem restoration from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Call 967-8222 to pre-register.

ARE YOU PREPARED FOR THE NEXT NATURAL HAZARD? A workshop about hazard preparedness takes place tomorrow at UH-Hilo’s UCB Lecture Hall from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Topics include Emergency management and evacuation planning, tsunami warnings, hurricane forecasts, home hurricane retrofit measures and the national flood insurance program.

HULA HALAU KE `OLU MAKANI O MAUNA LOA, under the direction of Meleana Ulrich-Manuel, performs tonight from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The performance is free, and park entrance fees apply.