A step forward
On the heels of increased property taxes, motor vehicle registration fees and rental fees for county facilities, it is encouraging to hear discussion of removing the cap on the counties’ share of the transient accommodations tax and giving counties the option to impose a 1 percent surcharge to the general excise tax.
They are a good start to long overdue changes.
The state of Hawaii Constitution allows the counties limited tools for raising their own revenue, mainly property taxes, a county gasoline tax and various user fees. The particular statute dates back to 1978, four years before the introduction of the IBM Personal Computer.
The Kenoi administration has managed Hawaii County with nearly $9 million less this year than in 2008 and the mayor generously pledged to donate his pay raise to the United Way.
Unfortunately, forecasts are for declining property tax revenue (about $7 million less for Hawaii County alone).
It is time counties have more flexibility to broaden their tax bases beyond 1978 limitations. Increasing the number of methods to raise revenue can maybe allow property taxes and fees to remain steady or decrease!
With each county an economics laboratory, innovative ideas are sure to help the different counties meet their different needs.
Residents and businesses can get relief through the state tax system as credit line items by county, or simply by increasing the value of tax exemptions for all.
The technology and framework already exist. After three and a half decades, it is time to change and these two ideas worthy of implementation.
Protect barn owls
It is sad to see a government-backed program to eradicate the cattle egret and barn owl in Hawaii.
Cattle egrets eat coquis and grasshoppers and loads of nonbeneficial insects.
Barn owls eat an average of between six and 10 rats and mice every night. This translates to well more than 2,000-3,560 mice and rats consumed per barn owl a year.
Yes, they are non-native, and so are taro, ducks, cats, avocados, mangoes and more importantly, people and rats.
Yes, perhaps a native bird might occasionally be eaten by a barn owl, but barn owls are night predators. Far more birds are eaten by feral and domestic cats.
Let your representatives know you don’t support this kill. Also, go to http://regulations.gov/#!home Docket FWS-HQ-MB-2013-0070.
Time is of the essence, as comments must be received by Feb. 2.