Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ranches and wind farms are eligible to take part in the Ka`u Enterprise Zone. Photo by Peter Anderson
KA`U ENTERPRISE ZONE STATE TAX BENEFITS are available to more small farms and manufacturers, not just the larger companies, according to Jane Horike, of the county Department of Research & Development. Companies that have benefited from state tax savings in Ka`u in recent years include Royal Hawaiian Orchards and its predecessor ML Macadamia, which farms thousands of acres of macadamia and does some of its processing locally. Olson Trust, with its Ka`u Farm & Management, Ka`u Coffee Mill and coffee farm, as well as thousands of acres in macadamia and ranching, has also applied for state tax relief, as has Tawhiri Power windmill farm, Horike said. 
      Smaller family farms and ranches – Rusty’s 100 Percent Ka`u Coffee, Kapapala Ranch and Paradise Meadows – are also beneficiaries of the Ka`u Enterprise Zone, Horike said. Horike said that even the smallest family business can apply.
      The purpose is to give state tax reductions to businesses to encourage them to hire more employees, even family workers, and grow their companies, said Horike. She gave some examples. A company may reduce state income taxes (on its profits) by 80 percent the first  year, the tax break going down 10 percent each year until the deduction reaches and  remains at 20 percent. There is also tax relief against the cost of unemployment insurance. The company may reduce state income taxes by 80 percent of the unemployment insurance premiums for the first year, with a 10 percent reduction during each subsequent year.  Another benefit is that the qualifying company is exempt from the .5 percent wholesale state general excise tax.
Ka`u small business owners are encouraged to take advantage of Ka`u Enterprise
Zone benefits before May 1. Map from Hawai`i County
      According to Horike, a Hawai`i County benefit is that eligible businesses get a three-year exemption from any increase in state property taxes resulting from new construction by an Enterprise Zone business at  Enterprise Zone sites.
      Another state benefit is that licensed contractors and sub-contractors are exempt from GET on revenue from construction done at the Enterprise Zone site of any business enrolled in the program, Horike said.
      To qualify for Ka`u Enterprise Zone tax benefits, a new company must increase employment by 10 percent the first year and maintain its level of employees. For agriculture, the company can increase and maintain employment or increase gross sales two percent a year. Existing businesses getting into the program must increase employees by 10 percent the first year, maintain the employment the second and third year. and increase employment 15 percent during the span of the fourth through seventh years.
      Horike noted that the Ka`u Enterprise Zone does not apply to services, hospitality or retail activities. Manufacturing, agriculture production and processing and wholesale distribution qualify, along with wind energy.
      The Ka`u Enterprise Zone expires May 1, and a proposed new map has been drawn by the county to designate the new area where benefits would apply. The new map takes out some conservation areas in the mauka lands between Pahala and Na`alehu and mauka toward Volcano and adds on some territory makai of Hwy 11 between Pahala and Volcano. The Ka`u Enterprise Zone has included and would include the entire Ka`u Coast. Horike said that the Enterprise Zone does not override any county zoning or state land use designations and does not supersede building regulations.
      The maps were the subject of discussion at the County Council Governmental Relations & Economic Development Committee’s meeting yesterday. Committee members focused on proposed expansion of enterprise zones in West Hawai`i, North Hilo, Hamakua and around Mauna Kea, where, according to Horike, farmers and ranchers aren’t able to take advantage of the program since they aren’t in Enterprise Zones.
      To apply, no matter how small, business owners can call Horike at 961-8496. She said it is important to apply before May 1.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Sustainability of Ka`u Hospital and other state-operated health facilities is one
of Gov. David Ige's goals. Photo by Julia Neal
MAKING SURE HAWAI`I HEALTH SYSTEM CORP. is sustainable is Hawai`i Island’s biggest issue, Gov. David Ige told Chris D’Angelo, of Hawai`i Tribune-Herald. HHSC operates the state’s safety net hospitals, including Ka`u Hospital, and depends on state subsidies to remain open. Ige said those subsidies have grown from about $80 million to more than $160 million. “Clearly, that growth is just not sustainable over the long haul,” he said. “So it’s really looking at what actions we need to take to ensure that the Hawai`i Health Systems Corporation can continue to provide needed services to our communities … here on the Big Island.” 
      Ige also discussed other Big Island issues with D’Angelo.
      Regarding invasive species, Ige told D’Angelo, “We know the ag inspectors are kind of the first line of defense, but it really is about educating the community, making them aware of things that they can do to help us identify invasive species.”
      According to Ige, labeling of food containing genetically modified organisms is a federal responsibility. He said he supports the Food and Drug Administration including and improving labeling requirements. “I think the challenge for us here in Hawai`i is our market is small, and we import, you know, 90 percent of the food that we eat,” he said. He pointed out the “significant costs” and “big challenge of enforcement” associated with a state labeling law. 
      Regarding Hawai`i County’s law banning most GMO crops, Ige said he thinks farmers should be able to choose what crops they want to grow and how they want to grow them. “It’s a big enough challenge for a farmer to be economically viable today, and I really believe that statewide arbitrary legislative restrictions become … a significant burden,” he said. “I think we need to be proactive and look at doing a better job of planning agricultural uses of lands and try to group farmers that want to be organic and non-GMO together so the risks and threat of drift and cross-pollination and contamination can be minimized.”
      Ensuring that the proposed sale of Hawaiian Electric Co. to NextEra Energy is in the best interest of the people of Hawai`i is another of Ige’s concerns. He said he has asked the Public Utilities Commission to look at the proposal from the broadest perspective possible, according to D’Angelo.
      See hawaiitribune-herald.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HISTORIC PRESERVATION OF HOMES is the topic of a bill unanimously passed by the state Senate and scheduled to be considered by the House Of Representatives on Friday. 
      SB 877 amends the definition of historic property to require that 50-year-old privately owned single-family residences be considered historic properties only if the property is listed or eligible for listing on the Hawai`i Register of Historic Places or is located in a historic district. It would requires the state Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Land & Natural Resources to conduct a survey on properties eligible for listing on the register and to provide owners of historic property with notice of the property’s likely eligibility.
      Ka`u residents can track the bill, read testimony and provide testimony at capitol.hawaii.gov.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

BOYS & GIRLS CLUB of the Big Island holds its third annual Youth of the Year Banquet & Awards Ceremony Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Hilo Hawaiian Hotel. The theme is Inspiring Youth, and participants can dress as what they wanted to be when they were young.
      To purchase tickets and for more information, contact Gail Hamasu at gail@bgcbi.org or 961-5536.

STAN KAINA, LEO NAHENAHE O POHAI KEALOHA and dancers from Kumu Hula Ab Valencia’s Halau Hula Kalehuaki`eki`eika`iu present an evening of hula and Hawaiian music today from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Free; park entrance fees apply. 

TICKETS ARE STILL AVAILABLE for the Piligrass Concert Sunday. Featuring Keoki Kahumoku and the Aloha Bluegrass Band, it will be held at Na`alehu Methodist Church with pupus at 5 p.m. Program begins at 6:15 p.m.
      All proceeds are being donated to the Center for Hawaiian Music Studies. Suggested donation for tickets is $20, and seating is limited. One lucky ticket will win a brand new `ukulele.
      Make checks payable to Center for Hawaiian Music Studies and mail to Woodley White at PO Box 44, Na`alehu, 96772 or RSVP to Woodley@easystreet.net or 854-9483.
      Tickets are also available at Ka`u Realty in Na`alehu and Pahala Plantation Cottage Office in the Edmund C. Olson Trust Building.


See kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.pdf. and
See kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_March2015.pdf.

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