|Council member Brittany Smart|
REPRESENTATIVES AT THE AIR NATIONAL GUARD Innovative Readiness Program are meeting with Ka`u community leaders at the Ocean View Community Center this morning. The Pentagon has approved the concept of the Guard setting up camp here and volunteering to complete community projects in Ka`u. Some 55 National Guardsmen would live and work here, rotating through Ka`u, over a three to five year period. Ocean View Community Development Corp.
President Loren Heck said such projects as drilling a second well for Ocean View, building septic systems for the homes of the Marshallese, building roads and bridges and repairing and upgrading community centers and public hospitals are all within the abilities of the Readiness Program. The Guard provides the labor, and the community comes up with the materials. Community groups with ideas can call Deann Canuteson, Project Coordinator of the Ka`u Opportunities and Abilities Project at 936-4925 or 929-9611.
RADIOACTIVE CESIUM AND IODINE have been found in Big Island milk, but the state Department of Health says the trace amount is not a health risk. Dean Okomoto, president of the Hawai`i Agricultural Foundation, said that all Hawai`i agricultural production is safe. He said he is worried that people will refrain from “buying local,” even though the health risk is negligible.
The amount of iodine 131 radiation found in milk was 18 picocuries per liter. The “action level” which would pull milk from shelves is 4,700 picocuries per liter. The level of cesium-134 and cesium-137 combined found in local milk was 43 picocuries. The federal action level is 33,000 picocuries per liter, said state Environmental Health Services Director Lynn Nakasone. She pointed out that trace levels of radiation have also been found in California milk. Hawai`i milk will be tested again next week.
THE STATE SENATE approved an $11 billion state budget for fiscal year 2012 and $10.8 billion for fiscal year 2013 yesterday and will work the next two weeks with the state House of Representatives in conference committees. To balance the budget, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Mayor Billy Kenoi and most of the other county mayors and the Hawai`i Government Employees Association leadership have agreed to a five percent pay cut for state and county HGEA workers. Teachers and United Public Workers are expected to join in the cost saving measure, and all three unions would have to vote on the pay cut. The Senate also voted to cut General Excise Tax exemptions for airlines, contractors, those who sublease and other businesses like shipbuilding and repair enterprises. The measure had strong opposition from business, but support from social service agencies and government worker unions facing pay cuts. It may be modified or taken off the table in the conference committee meetings. Also not included in the Senate budget is raising the General Excise Tax.
|Mayor Billy Kenoi|
MAYOR BILLY KENOI and other Neighbor Island mayors are expected to keep close track of what happens to the Transient Accommodation Tax income to the state, which is currently shared with the counties and on which Hawai`i County depends to balance its own budget. The Legislature is considering putting a cap on the amount of income given to the counties.
RETIREES will be keeping a close tab on the effort to tax pension plans. The Senate killed the bill, even though it was only for higher income retirees and would have generated some $17 million for the state. The House kept it alive as one of the options to raise money to pay for the state budget.
COUNCIL MEMBER BRITTANY SMART holds a District 6 Matters meeting tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira answers questions from the public about Fire Department issues and services.