|Community members joined staff from Ka`u Hospital and Hilo Medical Center at the blessing of the hospital's|
new Electronic Medical Records system. Photo by Elena Cabatu
STATE SENATE COMMITTEES have passed several appropriations measures to balance the budget. One of the bills caps the amount of Transient Accommodations Tax distributed to the counties at $93 million. Before yesterday’s vote, Mayor Billy Kenoi expressed his concern about the bill, saying that it “represents a deep cut into our second largest source of revenue. The Senate draft would hurt all of the counties.” Kenoi proposed that the Senate instead accept the House position, which would have capped the TAT distribution at the 2010 level of about $102 million.
“From the time of the establishment of the TAT in 1986, the Legislature planned to make the counties beneficiaries of the hotel room tax because lawmakers recognized the importance of county facilities and services to support and enhance the visitor experience,” Kenoi said. The counties use the TAT revenues to provide the police officers, firefighters, lifeguards, water and sewer service, transportation infrastructure and other essential services for visitors.
Another appropriations bill temporarily suspends general excise tax exemptions and tax breaks for several businesses. That measure had strong opposition from business, but support from social service agencies and government worker unions facing pay cuts.
Also passed is a bill that moves about $60 million in increased rental car fees to the general fund for a period of one year.
Bills raising the general excise tax and imposing a tax on pensions of high-income earners have not been approved.
The full House and Senate vote on the budget bills next week, before adjournment of the Legislature on Thursday.
|Ka`u Coffee farmer Bull Kailiawa; Phillipe Villers,|
of GrainPro; and Chris Manfredi, of Ka`u Farm &
Ranch, meet in Houston. Photo by Julia Neal
WINNERS FROM THE MISS KA`U COFFEE PAGEANT held last Saturday are gracing the Merrie Monarch Parade today. Miss Ka`u Coffee Queen Brandy Shibuya and her court, first Princess Jaeneise Cuison and Second Princess Brandy Eder, are representing the Ka`u Coffee Growers Cooperative in the parade. Also representing Ka`u Coffee are Miss Ka`u Peaberry Rebecca Lynn Kailiawa-Escobar and Young Miss Ka`u Coffee Dayse Meleani Andrade.
|Jessica Akana uses the new EMR|
system at Ka`u Hospital.
Photo by Elena Cabatu
A blessing for the new system was held yesterday. “The amount of work involved for our staff and the folks at Hilo Medical Center has been really unbelievable, and I am so very grateful to work with such committed staff,” said hospital administrator Merilyn Harris. Pastor Ray Glory, of New Hope Volcano, put the interruptions and inconveniences of setting up the system into perspective. Upon completion of a complex project, “you see gems that were not so bright when you first saw them,” he said. Nona Wilson, Nursing director, called it another new beginning for Ka`u Hospital.
|Volcano School of Arts & Sciences is|
renovating Keakealani Schoolhouse.
THE SPRING FLING is happening today in Na`alehu at Punalu`u Bake Shop’s new pavilion. Ka`u artists and artisans are displaying their creations and offering them for sale, giving demonstrations and leading art activities. Entertainment throughout day includes performances by the Ka`u `Ohana Band, the Na`alehu Civic Club Singers, Hands of Time, Keoki Kahumoku and more.
VOLCANO ART CENTER hosts its second annual May Day is Lei Day Festival tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. This free family event is for residents and visitors of all ages to join in the creative and cultural tradition of making and wearing lei.
Cultural practitioner Loke Kamanu will showcase a display of various lei and assist in hands-on lei making using ti and kui style, using flowers.
Lei makers of all ages and levels of experience can enter a lei contest. All lei entries become part of a silent auction fundraiser to benefit VAC’s year-round educational offerings.
Call 967-8222 or visit volcanoartcenter.org for details.