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Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs April 9, 2024

Mayor Mitch Roth frequently talks about aiming for more sustainability on this island where keiki
"can thrive and succeed" and families can remain here at home without moving for housing and
to find employment. He said it again in his budget message on Tuesday. See more below. Image from the Mayor

A PUBLIC COMMENT SESSION FOR THE NEW SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANT OPTION for Pāhala is Wednesday April 10 from 6 p.m. at Pāhala Community Center. The county plan, which would place the treatment plant on land between the pine tree lane on Maile Street and the macadamia nut husking plant on Hwy 11,  is described by the county as "package wastewater treatment plant with new collection system." Plan document will be available for viewing and comments are welcome. The link to join the meeting by Zoom on April 10 is: https://www.zoomgov.com/j/16031058165. 
    View county monthly status update at https://www.dem.hawaiicounty.gov/projects/pahala-na-alehu-large-capacity-cesspool-closures and for direct download at https://www.dem.hawaiicounty.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/307481/638459178461591134.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See upcoming events, print edition and archive at kaunews.com. See 7,500 copies the mail and on stands.

WITH THE THEME OF CREATING A SUSTAINABLE HAWAI‘I, Mayor Mitch Roth and his administration presented an $888 million 2024-2025 County of Hawai‘i operating budget to the County Council on Tuesday. He said the aim is for this place to be "a Sustainable Hawaiʻi Island where future generations can thrive and succeed."
    The Mayor's budget message says, "The proposed total operating budget of $888,082,546 emphasizes sustainability and growth, with a noteworthy increase in General Fund revenue. This rise in revenue is the result of a combined effort in aggressive grant writing, a robust tourism sector, and an improved building process that has significantly reduced the average processing time for single-family homes to between 34-42 days, leading to an increase in the inventory of homes and tax collection."
    It says, "the administration's successful grant acquisition efforts have brought in an additional $20 million, with significant contributions from the Office of Housing & Community Development and the Mass Transit Agency. These grants are pivotal in advancing housing initiatives and enhancing connectivity across the island, with a notable increase in the Housing First Voucher Program by $7 million, bringing the total to $30 million."
    A relatively substantial part of the budget's revenue comes from the Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT), which has seen an increase from approximately $19 million pre-County TAT to around $27 million year-to-date. "This increase is a testament to the thriving tourism industry and its substantial contribution to the local economy," says the budget message. "In line with the administration's commitment to fiscal responsibility, the proposed budget maintains a 10.3% fund balance, ensuring a solid bond rating and the ability to invest in areas that enhance the community's well-being. This balance is a strategic measure to safeguard against unforeseen costs and maintain financial stability. It also helps to ensure money is there to deal with potential natural disasters such as those seen on Maui in 2023."
    According to the Mayor, "The budget's focus extends beyond immediate needs, with a strategic emphasis on reinforcing county operations and preparing for the future. Investments in infrastructure maintenance, such as repairs to the Civic Auditorium in Hilo, re-grassing of Billy Kenoi Park in Pāhoa, and completion of Puʻu Nui Park and Kamakoa Nui Park in Waikōloa, among other projects, are key to preserving the island's assets. Additionally, allocating funds for state-of-the-art equipment, including emergency response vehicles and non-spray initiative tools, is crucial for enhancing service efficiency and community safety."
The proposed County Budget is more than $888 million.
The biggest area served geographically is District 6, which
includes Kaʻū, Volcano and South Kona
 Cybersecurity and digital investments are also a priority, with plans to introduce WiFi in 40 Parks' facilities across the island to enhance connectivity and promote digital equity. "This initiative is part of a broader effort to stay current with technology and protect residents' information from cyber threats."
    The budget message says, "The administration is deeply invested in its personnel, recognizing the importance of a well-equipped and trained workforce. The budget aims to provide competitive salaries and opportunities for growth, ensuring that county employees and their families can thrive.
    "As the county navigates rising costs, the proposed budget is balanced and financially responsible, aligning with the administration's priorities and available resources. Further, the administration looks toward the potential reduction in real property taxes (RPT), which would be a significant consideration in alleviating the financial burden on residents and promoting affordable housing."
    Roth expressed described the budget thoughtful, bold and sustainable. "It is an honor to serve this community and work alongside the Council to create a future where our keiki can raise their keiki for generations. We look forward to a constructive discussion as we finalize this budget together," said the Mayor.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See upcoming events, print edition and archive at kaunews.com. See 7,500 copies the mail and on stands.

TWO CASES OF WHOOPING COUGH, pertussis, are being investigated by the state Department of Health is investigating two confirmed cases of pertussis, along with eight probable cases in two separate households without travel-related exposures on Hawaiʻi Island. Both households have school-age children who attend local schools but are in geographically distinct areas of the island. DOH reports that no one is hospitalized, and is working with the families and schools to identify close contacts and encourage them to seek medical attention for preventive care as well as testing if symptomatic.
    These confirmed cases follow five previous confirmed cases of whooping cough in Oʻahu visitors among a single household in February 2024, which included a child who was hospitalized. The newer cases on Hawaiʻi Island are not connected with the February cluster. In the past five years from 2019-2023, there were 90 confirmed and probable whooping cough cases reported in Hawaiʻi, including 28 cases linked to three outbreaks. The last case prior to the currently reported cases in 2024 occurred in October of 2023.
    Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by bacteria. It can cause severe coughing fits (up to 10 weeks or more), followed by a high-pitched "whoop" sound when breathing in. Whooping cough can lead to serious complications, especially in infants, such as pneumonia, dehydration, seizures, and brain damage. Infants may not cough at all. Instead, they may have apnea (life-threatening pauses in breathing) or struggle to breathe.
    DOH recommends seeing a doctor as soon as possible when:
    Experiencing symptoms, such as runny nose, fever and coughing violently and rapidly;
    Struggling to breathe;
    Turning blue or purple;
    DOH suggests the best way to stay protected is to stay up to date with recommended whooping cough vaccines. Two vaccines used in the U.S. help prevent whooping cough are DTaP and Tdap. Infants and children are recommended to complete a series of DTaP doses. Adolescents are recommended to receive one dose of Tdap preferably at age 11 or 12 years old. Women should get a Tdap dose during the third trimester of each pregnancy to help protect their babies early in life, according to DOH.
     Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hawai'i's 2022-2023 kindergarten coverage rate for DTaP was 87.0% compared to a national average of 92.7%. Compared to the previous year, Hawai'i had the largest increase in vaccination exemptions.
    Staying up to date on routine vaccinations is an effective way of protecting our families and the larger community from outbreaks. Parents who are hesitant about vaccination are encouraged to discuss their concerns with their child's https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/signs-symptoms.htmlid contact with others until you are no longer contagious. People can spread the bacteria from the start of the very first symptoms symptoms (see https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/signs-symptoms.html) and for at least two weeks after coughing begins. Taking antibiotics early in the illness may shorten the amount of time someone is contagious. Learn more about treatment at https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/diagnosis-treatment.html
    The federal Center for Disease Control & Prevention recommends practicing good hygiene to prevent the spread of the bacteria that cause whooping cough and other respiratory illnesses:
    Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
    Throw away used tissues in a waste basket right away.
    Cough or sneeze into you upper sleeve or elbow if without a tissue. Never cough hands as germs can be spread this way.
    Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
    For more information about pertussis (whooping cough), visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/index.html.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See upcoming events, print edition and archive at kaunews.com. See 7,500 copies the mail and on stands.

CHEFZONE ENTREPRENEURS for Hawai‘i's Food Industry: Virtual Information Session. Wednesday April 10 from 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Hawai‘i Ag & Culinary Alliance is accepting applications for cohort 4, which aims at cultivating the next generation of Hawaiʻi's value-added entrepreneurs using Hawaiʻi-grown, raised, or caught ingredient. Individuals will have the opportunity to work alongside industry experts to build and establish their new food businesses. For more information, visit the website at https://hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com/cottageindustry/. RSVP for the virtual information session at https://hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com/cottageindustry-infosession/.

TROJAN VARSITY BASEBALL PLAYS KAMEHAMEHA on Wednesday April 10 from 3 p.m at Pāhala Baseball Field.