WAILUKU — Today, Mike White, Chair of the Council’s Budget and Finance Committee, proposed stabilizing real property tax rates for Fiscal Year 2014. The Mayor’s proposed budget incorporates increases to real property tax rates across all categories other than Homeowner.
“I am recommending all real property tax rates remain the same as the Fiscal Year 2013 rates,” said White. Because real property tax assessments have gone up, real property tax revenues will increase by $6 million, rather than the $26 million that would have been realized under the Mayor’s proposal. “I believe the “extra” $20 million should be retained by the property owners in our County to cover their own expenses,” he continued. “This time, the County will make do without.”
White’s proposal reduces spending accordingly. Last year, the Council approved a Budget of $550 million. The Mayor’s proposed Budget for FY 2014 is $574 million. “My proposal is more fiscally conservative and, in my opinion, more responsible, at $551 million,” said White. White added his proposal exercises the restraint reflected by Maui’s sister counties. According to White, the City and County of Honolulu is proposing the same real property tax rates as last fiscal year.
For the fifth straight year, Hawaii County will collect less real property taxes and continue existing real property tax rates. Kauai’s Mayor has proposed raising real property tax rates closer to statewide averages, but his overall proposed budget is 4.7% smaller than it was last year. White noted the move would maintain the level of services the County has come to expect, concluding, “I believe the County can live within the means provided by existing real property tax rates and the revenues they would achieve.”
White concluded, “Stabilizing real property tax rates would allow Maui County’s business community an opportunity to start its own recovery.”
Honolulu — A measure that would serve as a building block to creating a state-funded early childhood education program in the future advanced in conference committee Friday.
Senate and House conference committee members voted to move forward Senate Bill 1093, which establishes a school readiness program as a major component of the early learning system,
Senator Jill Tokuda, chair of the Senate Committee on Education and strong supporter of early childhood education, said the school readiness program is foundational as the state moves towards a funded preschool system.
“This is the first real investment Hawaii has made to join the vast majority of states that direct resources towards school readiness and early learning,” said Tokuda. “We have must to be proud of, and should recognize the opportunity if provides us to build a firm foundation of readiness as our youngest keiki enter school.”
The program creates a more robust, rigorous version of Preschool Open Doors, focused on efficiently and effectively utilizing the resources provided, and will call upon providers to do school readiness assessment filled in with the aim of making sure those who go through the program are ready for kindergarten,” she explained. “This is one of the greatest equalizers we can give our children, ensuring every chance that they can have to be successful in both school and life.”
The program will be administered by Department of Human Services. The bill appropriated $1.160M for administration costs for two years and $6M in FY15 for subsidies based on a sliding fee scale that the Department of Human Services will develop.
“This investment is significant to building up to the system,” she added.
The bill now goes before the full House and Senate for a final vote.
KAHULUI — The state Department of Transportation (DOT), Airports Division, advises pilots and air travelers that Hana Airport will be closed during nighttime hours from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., nightly, on Sunday nights through Friday mornings, beginning on Sunday night, April 28, through the end of August.
The nighttime closures are part of an airfield lighting improvements project which will remove and replace all electrical wiring, runway and taxiway light fixtures and replace windcones, at an approximate cost of $900,000.
The nighttime closures will not affect air service to Hana Airport, as no flights are regularly scheduled during these overnight hours. An emergency medivac plan is in place, allowing an alternate landing zone for medical helicopters, should the need arise. All daytime flight operations will continue as normal.
HONOLULU — The Coast Guard and Honolulu Fire Department rescued a group of kayakers offshore of Honolulu, Saturday.
Honolulu Fire Department received a call from one of a group of six kayakers at approximately 8 a.m. stating that some of their kayaks had overturned and four people were in the water. HFD deployed a rescue helicopter, rescue boat, fire boat and engine and contacted the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center.
Sector Honolulu responded by issuing an urgent marine information broadcast to request the assistance of mariners in the area and launching a 45-foot Response-Boat Medium from Coast Guard Station Honolulu.
Upon arriving on scene the Coast Guard response boat crew rescued four people from the water and took one person aboard from a kayak. They were then able to recover three kayaks, and escort the sixth member of the group as he paddled to Kaimana Beach. The five people aboard the response boat and their kayaks were taken to Ala Wai Boat Harbor with no reported injuries. Everyone was wearing a lifejacket.
Maritime accidents can occur quickly and without warning, even under the best weather conditions. Lifejackets, hand held marine VHF radios and signaling devices can greatly increase the chance of survival should the unexpected occur. Visitors to the Hawaiian Islands as well as residents should ensure they have appropriate safety equipment, weather information and experience before heading out on the water.
For more information on lifejackets visit<http://www.uscgboating.org> .
Sea conditions at the time were one to two foot swells, calm winds and clear skies.
HONOLULU – Gov. Neil Abercrombie released a statement late Friday regarding the Hawaii State Legislature passing SB 1093 CD1, which establishes the school readiness program within the Early Learning System. This legislation builds upon the existing Preschool Open Doors, a Department of Human Services program that already provides some services for our young children.
Gov. Abercrombie stated: “This is a great start. I am very pleased that Senate Bill 1093 has passed and I’m grateful to our legislators for recognizing this important step for the future of our keiki.
“The State of Hawaii can now demonstrate its commitment to preparing our youth by ensuring that high quality childcare and early education will be available, accessible and affordable.
“The priority will be to serve the low-income and some middle income families. We are pleased that the amount provided by the Legislature will allow us to serve the children with the highest need, those most at risk of not attending a preschool program.”
Maui Firefighters protected the Hospice Maui center on Mahalani Street Friday afternoon after a brushfire erupted downslope from the buildings.
At 1:56 p.m. Friday, Maui Fire Department Engine 1 and Mini 1 (from Wailuku), Engine 10 and Tanker 10 (from Kahului) responded to a reported brush fire near Hospice Maui located at 400 Mahalani Street. The fire burned an area of about 8000 square feet just downslope of a Hospice Maui building, which fire crews were protecting.
No other structures were threatened and there were no injuries to report. The fire, which was extinguished at 2:30 p.m., was between Maui Lani golf course fairway and Mahalani Street. The cause of the fire was undetermined.
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