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.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, May 18, 2017

Eucalyptus trees above Pahala on Kamehameha Schools land, could be cut and hauled to Pepeekeo
to burn in Hu Honua electric plant being refurbished at the old sugar mill.
Photo by Julia Neal

EUCALYPTUS TREES ABOVE PAHALA MAY BE HARVESTED FOR ENERGY, according to a plan submitted to state and county governments for the Hu Honua power plant project in Pepeekeo. The plan mentions that the Hu Honua hui made "a due diligence review of plantation forestry operations and reviewed several relevant resources and information, including the Road Easement documentation for the Pinnacle and Pahala properties, Hawai`i County Grading Permit and Grubbing Permit terms and conditions, and Exemption from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for the construction of two engineered stream crossings at the Pinnacle property, in order to conclude that timber harvest and other forest management activities are feasible in the context of environmental regulations and operational constraints."
     The proposal also states that a law firm was retained "to evaluate land use and regulatory compliance issues associated with the future harvest and haul operations from the Pinnacle and Pahala properties to supply Hu Honua with feedstock from existing timber lands, and concluded that it did not find any permitting requirements that would prohibit Hu Honua to continue forestry operations on the Pinnacle and Pahala properties." 
     The eucalyptus groves are above Pahala on Kamehameha School lands. The trees would be felled and trucked up the Hamakua Coast to Hu Honua, which is rebuilding the old Pepeekeo power plant from sugar industry days. It has been dormant since 2003.

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PROPERTY TAX HIKES are up for debate, with Mayor Harry Kim going before the County Council today to explain the proposed 6.5 percent increase on all properties except for affordable rental housing.
Mayor Harry Kim when he presented the 6.5 percent property tax
 hike proposal to the County Council.Photo by David Corrigan
See the mayor's  presentation today at Big Island Video News
     To fund the $400 million budget, with a $20 million shortfall, the mayor explained the administration decided that "After all different options were reviewed, that the best, in regards to fairness to all, was across the board 6.5 percent" property tax hike. "There were so many things in the budget that are beyond our control," said the mayor, pointing to legislative directives and increases in union wages, as well as retirement benefits. Pay raises account for $8 million, said the mayor, those pay hikes negotiated statewide by unions representing the firefighters and other government employees.
     On the revenue side, said the mayor, county representatives asked the state legislature to try to encourage a fairer and better distribution of the Transient Accommodations Tax to the counties. He said the county suffer a $2 million shortfall in the TAT that it provided by the state to the county  this coming year.
     The mayor said he understands the 6.5 percent property tax increase will not be well received by most people. He noted that there are 17 tax bases for state and only three are under control of the county. About  71 or 72 percent of county income is from property taxes, he explained.
     He said the county was $20 million short for next year's budget, even after county departments made cuts. Anticipating a shortage in income, the mayor said, "Department by department, the first instructions to all of them was 'cut.' The second time around it was again, 'cut."
    He said, however, he would not support any furloughs or removal of county positions. "If money was not an issue, as I told the police chief, we could easily double the police department forces and still be short." He pointed to Ka`u and Puna. "The shortage of police officers there is not disputed. It is well known. We do wish we had the money to give to the police department to increase the services there."
Mayor Kim said he could not cut positions or furlough workers in
his budget considerations. Photo by David Corrigan. See the mayor's
presentation at
 Big Island Video News
     The mayor told the County Council that said the county "can defend, comfortably, the entire budget as a good one in regards of choices that have to be made."
     One department where an increase was allowed was for the transit system - with an addition of $600,000 to the budget for necessary expenses. The mayor noted that he made a personal plea to the mayor of Honolulu who will ship by late June "five to seven buses for our use. These are buses that they rotate out of their fleet." He said Honolulu has a "tremendous maintenance program and those buses would not be put on the road unless they were good, and the only thing that we have to pay for is the transportation of the buses to this island."  He said Honolulu County has been "very kind and gracious in giving us all that they can."
    Kim emphasized that most department budgets have been cut including the budget of the mayor's office. Cuts are small because budgets are small, he said. He gave and example of what he called a small cut in a $400 million budget. The county deleted its $12,000 membership to the National Association of Counties.
     See more of the mayor's presentation at www.bigislandvideonews.com.

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STATE TEAM OF THE YEAR: NextEra-Hawaiian Electric Merger Evaluation Team, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, is the winner, Gov. David Ige announced today.
     "This dedicated 15-member team worked tirelessly to process and analyze more than a hundred thousand pages of information in their review of the proposed $4.3 billion merger between NextEra and the Hawaiian Electric Companies. In each and every instance, they upheld the division’s mission to protect and advance the interests of Hawai‘i’s regulated utility consumers."
     The merger of Florida-based NextEra and Hawaiian electric Companies, which includes the utility for this island, did not go through, after much evaluation by the state and counties and consumer groups.
     Team of the Year was one of the titles given in the state Employees of the Year competition. The individual Employee of the Year is a school custodian, Lowell Spencer who works for the Department of Education. Manager of the Year is Mark Patterson, corrections manager with the state Department of Human Services.

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KICKOFF PARTY AND OPEN HOUSE FOR THE KA`U COFFEE FESTIVAL is this Friday, May 19 at Pahala Plantation House beginning at 6 p.m. El Leo, the Puerto Rican band will play music along with Sen. Russell Ruderman, who is back from the 2017 Hawai`i Legislature. Also meet Rep. Richard Creagan, Chair of the Agriculture Committee for the state House of Representatives. Meet Miss Ka`u Coffee Jami Beck and her court. Taste Ka`u Coffee and meet the farmers. The event is free.

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KA`U COFFEE RECIPE CONTEST is Sunday, May 21 at Ka`u Coffee Mill. The annual Ka‘u Coffee Recipe Contest is part of the Ka`u Coffee Festival and offers cash prize. Entries are accepted in adult and student divisions, in pupu, entree and dessert categories and all recipes are made with Ka‘u coffee. Free coffee tasting. Meet Miss Ka‘u Coffee. Find contest entry info at www.kaucoffeemill.com or call 808-928-0550. 

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