Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A state climate adaptation committee will develop a sea-level rise vulnerability and adaptation report.
Sunset at South Point photo by Peter Anderson
HAWAI`I COUNTY IS ENFORCING AGRICULTURAL TAX EXEMPTIONS, sending letters to property owners getting tax breaks with no evidence of farming taking place, reports Nancy Cook Lauer in West Hawai`i Today. She attended yesterday’s meeting of the Real Property Tax Stakeholders Task Force, which is also making changes to how ag exemptions are implemented.
      Property owners have until Dec. 31 to submit a new application for an ag exemption or lose the tax break for the tax year starting July 1, 2015.
      Ag property owners must reapply for exemptions every three years and commit to the three-year period in order to receive tax breaks. Previously, the exemptions renewed automatically. Property owners must also present proof that the land is in agriculture.
      According to Cook Lauer, the process has a long way to go before it is implemented. Real Property Tax Administrator Stan Sitko said at the meeting, “Switching the automatic process to an entire new certification would probably take the tax office three years to implement.”
      Cook Lauer said the task force is “trying to strike a balance between ensuring the county has enough revenues and making it fair for all property owners, without unduly discouraging people who want to make a living farming.”
      Jeff Melrose, of the county Department of Research and Development, said, “It’s important that the land is used to keep it from being overgrown with invasive plants. … The farms go a long way toward helping the county become more self-sufficient and sustainable.”
     Task force member Stewart Hussey said, “We need to have a tax policy that ensures revenue generation for the county is productive. ... We need to support economic and beneficial use of the land. There’s got to be a balance between those opposing forces.”
      According to Task Force Co-Chair Margaret Wille, the exemptions account for $28 million in lost property tax revenues.
      See westhawaiitoday.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Richard Abbett, of Ocean View, is a candidate for
County Council District Six.
A BILL CALLING FOR A CHANGE IN THE LENGTH of Hawai`i County Clerk’s term has passed its first of three required readings at County Council. Bill 253 initiates an amendment to Hawai`i County Charter to change the term from two to six years. Ka`u’s Council member Brenda Ford was one of three voting against the measure.
      Candidate for County Council District Six Richard Abbett, of Ocean View, offered testimony on the measure. While the County Clerk is an appointed by the County Council, Abbett’s testimony calls for it to become an elected position.
      “It has been widely acknowledged that the County of Hawai`i needed stability and experience to improve the workings of the Clerk’s office that could extend to an efficiently run election,” Abbett said. “However, as indicated by the studies of the prestigious Wisconsin Government Accountability Board and the Pew Charitable Trusts, ‘elected officials are more in favor of policies that are thought to promote turnout.’ Municipalities that have appointed officials have lower voter turnout and have lower purge rates. This phenomenon is seen nationwide, but here in Hawai`i we have now sunk to the very bottom nationally of voter turnout. …
      “Citizen concern and involvement of an informed electorate is the keystone of a fair and functioning democracy. This legislative body assures the county provides the opportunity to witness and participate yet has to scrap to find funds for video feeds of meetings as if it is an afterthought or leftover from the budget process. Even what is provided is nearly every meeting interrupted by loss of signal or audio, and turned off if there is no direct testimony. Citizens have to drive many miles, taking time out of their busy schedules to view the public’s business.
      “This bill offers an opportunity to reverse direction and begin the climb back to respectability and public trust if it is amended to make the position elected and eliminate the appointment. I thereby implore this body to improve this proposal by making that change. Send to the public for vote the opportunity for a change in our County Charter to restore faith in our democratic process.”
      If the measure passed County Council, it will be on the November’s general election ballot.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signt a measure establishing an interagency climate
adaptation committee. Photo from Office of the Governor
A MEASURE THAT ESTABLISHES AN INTERAGENCY climate adaptation committee under the Department of Land and Natural Resources received Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s approval yesterday. The committee is charged with developing a sea-level rise vulnerability and adaptation report addressing statewide impacts to 2050. 
      Act 83 also authorizes the Office of Planning to coordinate development of climate adaptation plans and policy recommendations and to use the committee’s report as framework for addressing other climate threats and climate change adaptation priorities.
      “This measure builds on Hawai`i’s leadership in addressing climate change,” Abercrombie said. “Being the only island state in the country, we are especially vulnerable to climate change and are on the frontlines of impacts like sea level rise. I applaud the Legislature for passing this bill and recognizing that Hawai`i is ideal as a learning laboratory to continue to contribute and shape our nation’s response to climate change adaptation.
      “We look forward to showcasing our leadership when Hawai`i hosts the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress.”
      Act 83, which takes effect immediately, states that coordination of the committee will be headed jointly by the DLNR chair and the OP director or their designees. It requires that the committee’s report be made public no later than Dec. 31, 2017.
      For more information on Hawai`i’s climate change initiative, see governor.hawaii.gov/blog/navigating-climate-change, 
planning.hawaii.gov/czm/ocean-resources-management-plan-orm and dlnr.hawaii.gov/rain/fact-sheet.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Tydlacka and Iacuzzo examine fossil vertebrae from a marine reptile
known as a plesiosuar. Photo from Joe Iacuzzo
IN EARLY MAY, JOE IACUZZO, FOUNDER of the Hawai`i Science Festival, and Kathryn Tydlacka, founder of Ka`u Learning Academy, traveled to Philadelphia on a grant that Iacuzzo won from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to advance science education in Hawai`i through the festival. Iacuzzo, who develops educational programs and museum exhibits featuring dinosaurs, took the opportunity to meet with colleagues at the Drexel Academy of Science in Philadelphia, a museum founded by Benjamin Franklin. He and Tydlacka got to go behind the scenes and visit parts of the museum’s collections not open to the public. This included Thomas Jefferson’s personal collection of fossils of prehistoric mammals, such as giant sloths and mammoths. Also included in his collection is the only fossil found during Lewis & Clark’s 1804 expedition to explore the American West.
        While there, Iacuzzo and Tydlacka attended educator workshops at Temple University and the Franklin Institute. The workshops focused on STEM education for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. “These workshops,” said Ka`u Learning Academy executive director Tydlacka, “will assist us in developing programs for our teachers and our students.”
      The Hawai`i Science Festival is planned for late 2014. Ka’u Learning Academy will open in August 2015.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

LOW INCOME HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE is available in Ocean View and Pahala today, Tuesday, June 10, Thursday, June 11 and Friday, June 13 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The sign-up location has been changed from Na`alehu to Ocean View Community Center and will continue at Old Pahala Clubhouse. 
      For more information for Pahala, call 936-8396. For Ocean View, call 936-9296. Na`alehu and other Ka`u residents can go to either location.
Kumu hula Mamo Brown NPS Photo by Jay Robinson
      Those wanting help with electric and gas bills must bring photo ID for all adults, Social Security cards for all house residents, citizenship verification, birth certificate or state ID or passport, HELCO or gas bill, income verification, pay stubs, affidavit, proof of physical residence, tax bill or other bill with street address.

KUMU HULA MAMO BROWN DEMONSTRATES three different lei styles: wili, hipu`u, and hilo, using backyard foliage tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Free; park entrance fees apply.

THE SIXTH ANNUAL VOLCANO POTTERY SALE takes place this Friday and Saturday. Fifteen Hawai`i Island potters participate on Friday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village.
      For more information, see ryhpottery.com/volcano_pottery_sale or call Ron Hanatani at 985-8530.


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